Wichita Falls is saying good bye to a long- time pillar in the scouting, non- profit, and MSU community, a World War II veteran who set an example for others to live by.
Just a few months after he was diagnosed with colon cancer, Bill Thacker passed away Thursday morning at the age of 94.
By the time he graduated from Wichita Falls High School in 1941, Thacker had already been very involved with the Scouts for years.
He was about to find himself fighting over Europe with brave other members of The Greatest Generation.
He was becoming the man many others would respect and admire for generations to come.
Thacker first joined the Scouts in 1933, 85- years ago, just a few years before he’d make a trip to the first National Jamboree of the Boy Scouts of America in Washington, D.C..
“As you can see, this is dated July 1, 1937 to Billy Thacker or Bill Thacker from his friend Lyndon Baines Johnson,” Ty Thacker said. “My dad is actually right here. He had red hair when he was young. This is J. Edgar Hoover and this is Lyndon Baines Johnson when he was a congressman.”
Ty Thacker says the whole family’s very proud of this picture knowing what the Scouts always meant to his father.
“There was no doubt in his mind it made a difference in young men’s lives,” said Thacker.
David Farabee/Former State Rep, Eagle Scout: “When I got really involved in Scouting, it became very apparent that all of us stood on the shoulders of gentlemen like Bill Thacker.”
During World War II, the B17 gunner kept a diary while on thirty missions over Europe.
“The flak had blown a hole in the airplane just where his foot had been sitting. He said, did I feel sick? Don’t ask me,” said Ty Thacker. “When you think about a twenty year old making his first flight out of England, as they say going into Hitler’s hell hole and dropping thirty eight chemical bombs, taking flak and having to land at a different airport in England because you can’t get to yours because you’ve got one engine out, it’s a very enlightening read needless to say.”
Bill Thacker would go on to be a long- time member of MSU’s Board of Regents, and was part of the team that sued the state of Texas so that MSU could receive part of the permanent higher education fund.
“Since that occurred thirty three years ago, I think Midwestern’s benefited about to the tune of $90,000,000,” said Thacker.
He was also a founder of Hands to Hands Community Fund that assists area non- profits.
“He was actually the spark for that whole idea to create a payroll deduction program for these agencies that needed funding back ten years ago,” Thacker said. “It turned out very successful and it makes a difference in our community, so that was one of his proudest moments as well.”
When I think about 12 points, trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent, I see Bill Thacker and I think he is all of those things,” Farabee said.
Bill Thacker was the embodiment of the Scout law, from The Greatest Generation. He was a real champion to the Wichita Falls community.
A memorial service is set for 2 pm this Saturday at First United Methodist Church in downtown Wichita Falls.
Visitation will follow.