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Published: Tuesday, 1/13/2004

Pilot ran air charter firm

George I. Thrasher, a retired military test pilot and flight instructor who managed a local air charter firm during the 1970s, died Saturday in Foundation Park Care Center. He was 82.

Mr. Thrasher died of Alzheimer s disease, said his wife, June. He had been diagnosed with the disease 21/2 years ago.

He attended Libbey High School and completed his schooling while serving in the Army during World War II. He was a test pilot and a gunner with the air corps in Texas during the war and later was a second lieutenant in the Air Force Reserve.

Mrs. Thrasher said her husband worked as a truck driver and private flight instructor until 1955, when he joined Aiken Air Craft Corp. at Toledo s National Airport, buying a share of the company and becoming its vice president. National Airport was at the site of what is now North Towne Square northeast of Alexis and Telegraph roads.

Four years later he became a corporate pilot for Libbey-Owens-Ford at its Toledo hangar, his wife said. In 1963, he went to work for Crow, Inc., the air charter and airport management firm in Lake Township that employed him until he retired in 1980.

With Crow, Mr. Thrasher first managed and gave flying lessons at the airport in Bowling Green, owned at that time by Bowling Green State University. He later moved to Crow s home office at Metcalf Field to manage its charter operations.

“He was a very personable guy, well known to the people in Toledo who chartered airplanes,” said Tony Barnum, Crow s retired owner.

Mrs. Thrasher said her husband had outstanding mechanical skills and was a talented handyman. “There really wasn t anything George couldn t do around the house,” she said.

The only time she flew on a plane piloted by her husband was a trip to Buffalo to distribute advertising materials for fishing charters, she said.

“We came back in the most horrible storm, but we made it,” Mrs. Thrasher said, adding that the experience did not make her afraid to fly.

Mr. Thrasher was a member of the Quiet Birdsmen Pilot Association, Triad Masonic Lodge 708, Calumet Chapter 191, Calumet Council 133, Scottish Rite, Valley of Toledo, and Triune Chapter 334, Order of the Eastern Star. He was a parishioner at Bethel Lutheran Church, 1853 South Ave.

Surviving is his wife, June, whom he married 62 years ago.

Arrangements, which will be private, are being handled by Walter Funeral Home. The family suggests tributes to Bethel Lutheran Church.

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