Save the Date for Oct. 6 or 13th - Strides4CJD Atlanta Race 2018 TB Finalized Soon!
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Steve was laid to rest on March 9, 2013 at Honey Creek Woodlands, a natural burial ground owned and operated by the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, about 45 minutes from Atlanta. Anyone is welcome to visit.
"A great soul serves everyone all the time. A great soul never dies. It brings us together again and again."
- Maya Angelou
Visitors to Site
Five years...how did that happen? Time is a friend one day and an enemy the next. It is hard to believe that time has flown by this quickly. I know that most who experience loss of any type, have this sentiment. The past five years have allowed for some healing and growing, but grief has a funny way of popping up when you least expect it. This anniversary of dad's passing was one of those times.
We visit dad's burial site each year for his birthday, anniversary and for father's day. Last week, I brought my 1 year old daughter Cecilia. I realized as I was driving out to Honeycreek Woodlands, that as a new mom, I have to think about how I teach her about her grandfather. I want her to know dad. Like her cousin Noah, I want her to see his photo know that, that is Grandpa Steve. We will of course tell her about his interests like basketball, baseball, reading, movies and much more; but I believe it is important for her to understand his beliefs in effecting change and making an impact on this world no matter how small.
Our family is lucky in that dad had such a large community that loved him and who help to keep his memory alive. To this day, we run into people from time to time that tell us about a remembrance they had about dad, or challenge that wish they could ask him for advice on. It is something that we are grateful for.
I think that it is important to remember our loved ones, their history and learn from that experience. (That loved one could be a family member, a mentor...really anyone that is significant in life.) If I think back to dad there are so many things I could talk to my daughter about. In the end though, I think even more than stories about his travels, studies, hobbies, and work...the basic principles in life I learned from dad (and mom) apply to many of us and I hope to teach my daughter these same things:
There are many more I am sure, but at the moment, those are what I could think of.
Sometimes looking back at those people who have positively influenced us and talking about them can re-center us. I intend to always remember dad and anyone else who influences me and my family.
In that spirit, I hope that you will consider giving to the CJD Foundation to enable their mission to educate and support research and families about this terrible disease; or my dad’s fund at the CDC Foundation. Dad’s legacy is more than a library or a summer camp. I believe he would prefer the teens who attend the camp be inspired to go out into life and try to change the world for the better.
This in year particular we hope you have a few dollars to spare. The family is matching up to $5,000 for the Stephen B. Thacker Fund which we hope can go towards expanding the camps to reach more young people, and maybe even a scholarship for those need based students who would otherwise not be able to participate.
This week marks 3 years since we lost dad. Not a day goes by where our family does not miss and remember him. His spirit and teaching still influences us and many whom he worked with. We are grateful to those who have reached out with random memories or thoughts since we lost him. It has been wonderful to hear about a flash of a memory about dad teaching someone, or dropping one of his humorous ‘Thacker’ lines.
Monday night I was watching the Grammy’s and enjoying the many performances honoring those great musicians we lost this past year. I couldn’t help but think about dad and how much music meant to him. He and my mother instilled their love for oldies, jazz, blues, and rock and roll into my sister and me.
Monday night, the great Stevie Wonder said, “Time and time again, we find solace in the healing power of music.” I could not agree more. Though often times a song might bring up tears or anger, it helps one to process those emotions; work through those emotions.
The Grammy’s were filled with performances my father would have absolutely loved. Lady Gaga’s Bowie tribute, Adelle (who he loved), Stevie Wonder and Pentatonix, Kendrick Lamar, the amazing Alabama Shakes, and of course the Eagles tribute. All those said, I think it is fair to say, he would have been most taken with the performance of Chris Stapleton, Gary Clark Jr., and Bonnie Raitt, singing “The Thrill Is Gone” to honor the great blues legend B.B. King. By the time that song was done, I had tears streaming down my face. Maybe it was a combination of the lyrics, the artists and tune which moved me to the core. Dad would have loved every moment of that performance.
In case you didn’t know, my dad loved jazz and blues most of all. For as long as I can remember, the walls of his office were filled with basketball team photos (Go Lions!) and CDC caricatures (you CDC people know what I am talking about); but the one that stood out was his framed copy of A Great Day in Harlem or Harlem 1958. For those not familiar, this is a 1958 black-and-white group portrait of 57 notable jazz musicians photographed in front of a brownstone in Harlem, New York City.
Ella Fitzgerald, BB King, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Etta James, Nina Simone, and Sarah Vaughan were names Gabbi and I knew well. My dad’s passion for music was extraordinary. He could talk for hours about the artists above, but also talk Elvis, CCR, Beatles, The Band, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, The Door, Hendrix, and not to mention every 1 hit wonder from the 50’s and 60’s which no one else could remember. He mind was filled with so much music knowledge it was astounding some times. Jerry Lewis’ birthday…he knew it; what year was ‘Hey Jude’ released…1968. Every time we tried to trip him up about music he had an answer. It was quite impressive. (As an aside, 1968 was a pretty awesome year for music. I Heard It Through The Grapevine; Mrs. Robinson; and Sitting on the Dock of the Bay, to name a few.) Dad knew it all and I am grateful that my sister and I have a similar love of music. I even remember when Gabbi asked for a record player when she was in middle school so she could play all of dad’s records.
Music touches us each and every day. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are. Music brings out emotions and passion in people like nothing else. My dad felt a passion for so much. From music, to sports and of course his career in public health. I remember him each day when I turn on the radio and it brings a smile to my face. I cannot wait to one day embarrass my kids by singing some golden oldies in the car…maybe I’ll even bite my lip to honor dad and his groovy dance moved.
In closing, I guess I just want to say that I hope you all have passion for something as deeply as Dad did. May whatever brings you joy also bring a song to your heart. (Ok a little cheesy with that line…but it works.)
Thank you to our friends and loved ones for all the support these past 3 years. My family wishes you the best in 2016. I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about dad’s love for music.
On November 1, nearly 70 walkers and runners gathered at Keswick Park to participate in the 1st Annual Strides4CJD 5K. Rainy weather did not keep participants from coming together to help raise awareness and funds for the national CJD Foundation. The event coincided with races of the same name all over the country that weekend.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) is a rare, rapidly progressive brain disorder which kills ~1 in a million people in the US. There is no treatment or cure, and this neurodegenerative disease is invariably fatal.
Atlanta area families affected by this disease, were able to come together to support each other, and share memories about their deceased loved ones. This is the first national fundraiser the CJD Foundation has conducted.
The Atlanta race raised nearly $5000 before national race sponsorships. Proceeds of this event will go to the CJD Foundation General Fund, which supports advocacy, medical education, family support, and research programs. The CJD Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, offers families a 7-day HelpLine, referrals, an annual conference, and support groups. The CJD Foundation is currently funded in most part by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can learn more about the CJD Foundation at www.cjdfoundation.org.
Special thanks to race volunteers, Jennifer Rackley with Parks & Recreation, and the Chamblee police department for escorting the race, ensuring everyone’s safety and going above and beyond in encouraging participants throughout the race. Race organizers look forward growing the Atlanta Strides4CJD 5K in 2016.
Source: CDC Connects - Click here to view in Wordpress with images.
CDC’s Public Health Library and Information Center was officially renamed the Stephen B. Thacker CDC Library during a dedication ceremony on July 11 at the Roybal campus. Family members, friends, colleagues and guests gathered to remember and honor Stephen B. Thacker, MD, MSc, ASG/RADM (ret), USPHS—a true scholar who valued books and literature and championed diversity, scientific inquiry, and education as a life-long process.
In addition to the renaming of the library, the dedication program included the opening of the Stephen B. Thacker Legacy Exhibit and the unveiling of a memorial bust plaque. The program included remarks from several people who shared fond memories of their times with Thacker.
Steve Thacker’s extraordinary legacy of leadership in his 37 years of service at CDC began when he was an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer (disease detective) assigned to the Washington, DC Department of Health in 1976. On his first day, he was sent to Harrisburg, PA to help investigate what turned out to be Legionnaires’ disease. From that historic moment until his death on February 15, 2013, Thacker embodied the best of CDC’s commitment to science and to public health service.
Thacker authored or co-authored 241 books and articles that covered far-ranging topics from infectious disease surveillance to sport injuries to environmental hazards. He received the Surgeon General’s Medallion for exceptional contributions to the USPHS Commissioned Corps, CDC, and the science and practice of public health. Last year CDC established the Stephen B. Thacker Science for Social Justice Award, as well as the Stephen B. Thacker Excellence in Mentoring Award.
A Champion of CDC, EIS, and the Library
In his welcoming remarks, CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, mentioned that there were many occasions when he had traveled with Thacker, who always had a book in hand. “He told me he would alternate reading fiction with non-fiction. And I thought that epitomized Steve in so many ways balancing work and outside life, and different types of activities…A library is really fitting because of his love of books, but also because it’s the CDC library and he loved CDC. He had a profound impact on CDC, and in many ways was the heart and voice and historian of CDC.”
Presenter Michael Iademarco, director, Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services (CSELS), said that his current office (2400 Century Center, Room 6508) was Thacker’s office when he served as director of the Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Servicers (OSELS), which preceded CSELS. “When people come to my office, they immediately say, ‘Oh, this was Dr. Thacker’s office,’” said Iademarco, who added that he welcomes the comment and encourages people to reflect. “I’ve noticed themes when they speak: I hear the emotion in their voice, the enthusiasm and endearment when they talk about Dr. Thacker. What has struck me was his unwavering commitment to CDC as an agency and our mission—and his willingness to respond to the agency’s request for help.”
Also making remarks was Stephanie Zaza, director, Division of Adolescent and School Health, who shared several stories about Thacker’s support and guidance as a mentor, and his love of books, research and the library. “Steve is well known as a champion of CDC and EIS, but he was also a champion of the library,” she said.
She described a meeting in 2010 when Thacker asked her to join a new organizational unit that he wanted her to run, and how he had lobbied for the CDC library to be included in this new unit. “He talked about how the original Clifton campus library on the fourth floor of Building 1 was his sanctuary—and he extolled the many virtues of the librarians and how they had always found interesting articles and literature that would support his research…Steve could see the value of things that others had not yet realized. He thought that having the library in our portfolio was exciting because he saw how it could continue to serve CDC’s mission, even as we increasingly moved into the electronic age.” Zaza added, “Naming this library after Steve is so appropriate. He treasured the pursuit of knowledge, and his love for the library was constant and tangible.”
Former CDC Director Jeffrey Koplan, now vice president for global health, Emory University, described Thacker as a habitual user of the library and a voracious reader of scientific literature. “He always had a paper he was working on, no matter what his other administrative and leadership duties were. He firmly believed that being involved in a scientific undertaking of establishing new information and assimilating materials was highly appropriate—and drove him. He needed that intellectual stimulation.”
Koplan said that Thacker deftly combined the roles of scientist/public health investigator and being a mentor. “He was someone you could admire and learn things from in terms of his integrity, beliefs, and intellectual rigor.”
Long before the term ‘evidence-based’ became popular, Thacker was interested in how to use established information and was conducting meta-analysis. “His papers still stand as beacons of clarity and knowledge in the field,” said Koplan. “We honor Steve in the naming of this library today, but we honor the library of CDC by naming it after one of CDC’s most illustrious leaders.”
A Passion for Books, Learning, and Life
Speaking on behalf of the Thacker family, oldest daughter Maria Thacker Goethe said that for as long as she could remember, her father was never without a book—whether at the beach, in his home office, at the gym, or before bed—one was always within reach. “He’d bring home these large bound pages of Epi investigations—and they were typed!—and I would ask, ‘Why are you reading that?—it’s ancient.’ And he said how it was important to get refreshed on historical investigations. That was Dad!”
Goethe pointed out that in an age where computer and tablet and e-reader are readily accessible, there’s something to be said about the quiet refuge a library provides. “Places such as this give solitude from the everyday noise, and inspire and encourage the act of reading and research,” she said. “As we walk through this library we are reminded of the commitment of this agency to protect and improve the health of our community. I can only hope that through this exhibit future generations will understand my father’s commitment to the health and well-being of people throughout this world—as well as his passion for life.”
Also making brief comments as a program presenter was Chloe Tonney, senior vice president for external affairs, CDC Foundation. She described Steve Thacker as a “friend, physician, epidemiologist, and mentor who has touched all our lives.” She mentioned that her frequent conversations with Thacker revolved around one of three subjects: EIS; finding a way to honor and preserve the legacy of a public health luminary; or plans for the future growth and reach of the CDC library. “How fitting that the CDC library is now named for one of the most noted epidemiologists of our time—one so deeply committed to experiential learning, teaching and discovery.”
Koplan and Thacker’s widow, Luz Fortes Thacker, together removed the covering over the Thacker relief plaque—revealing a bronze image of a smiling Steve Thacker. Koplan peered closely and then quipped, “Thank God they didn’t put a tie on him!” which elicited laughter among the audience. Thacker was well-known for his penchant for polo shirts.
A Career Rooted in Science, Social Justice—and Love
After the program, attendees were invited to view the Stephen B. Thacker Legacy Exhibit, a permanent exhibit that showcases many items from Thacker’s life at CDC, as well as personal mementos.
The exhibit features the William C. Watson Jr. Medal of Excellence for Sustained Leadership and Lasting Contributions to Scientific Excellence, which Thacker received in 1996; and the Charles C. Shepard Science Award for Lifetime Scientific Achievement, awarded to Thacker in 2009.
For several years Thacker was coach of the girls’ basketball team at St. Pius Catholic High School, and one display includes his coach cap and whistle along with a basketball signed by some of his players.
The exhibit also includes Steve Thacker’s briefcase; an old passport; and photos of Thacker as a schoolboy during the mid-1950s, as a young epidemiologist interviewing an American Legion member in 1976, and as chief resident of the Duke-Watts Family Medicine Program in Chapel Hill, NC (1975-76), where he championed community health education and helped train lay advisors.
Music for the dedication ceremony was provided by the Jubilate Trio, which included CDC staff members Miranda Bodfish (flute) and Jenny Parker (cello), both from CGH, and Carol Haisten (piano). Following the program, the CDC Foundation hosted a reception for the family and other attendees.
Linda Carnes (CSELS), who served as special project lead for the dedication program and legacy exhibit, said that planning the event was particularly rewarding. “I worked under Dr. Thacker's
leadership in many different positions over my years here at CDC, and so it has been a special pleasure to work with our talented team to honor Dr. Thacker in this way. Re-naming the library is a
fitting legacy to both his love for CDC and deep commitment to our mission and work. He would be very pleased.”
Click PDF link below to view actual publication.
By Natalie Duggan, CDC Foundation
On Friday, July 11th, family, friends and distinguished guests gathered in the library at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a special dedication ceremony to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Stephen B. Thacker and to rename the library as the Stephen B. Thacker CDC Library. Stories were shared about Dr. Thacker’s love for books and the joy he found in scientific inquiry. Fond memories and experiences were recounted about Dr. Thacker’s unwavering commitment to CDC and its mission, as well as his passion for helping people. He passed away in February 2013.
Dr. Stephanie Zaza, director of the Division of Adolescent and School Health at CDC, expressed gratitude for Dr. Thacker’s constant mentorship from the time she arrived at CDC as a 22-year-old medical student.
“Steve could always see the values of things that others had not yet realized,” Zaza said. “He often described the CDC library as his sanctuary and the rows of books as a world of ideas. He treasured the pursuit of knowledge and the quiet act of discovery.”
Maria Thacker Goethe, daughter of Dr. Thacker, spoke on behalf of the Thacker family about Dr. Thacker’s personal and professional interests in the CDC library and what the library’s resources meant to him as a scientist. “The mission of the Stephen B. Thacker CDC Library is to advance science, public health and safety through information,” she said. “My father’s own career is a glowing example of this.”
A plaque honoring Dr. Thacker was unveiled by Mrs. Luz Fortes Thacker, widow of Dr. Thacker, and Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, former CDC director. Attendees were invited to walk through the permanent Thacker Legacy Exhibit in the library, which includes free-standing glass cases full of significant artifacts from Dr. Thacker’s personal life and professional ties to CDC.
Dr. Thacker’s legacy of leadership and service lives on through the Stephen B. Thacker Fund at the CDC Foundation. Established by the Thacker family, the fund supports the CDC Disease Detective Camp for children, where young students explore concepts in epidemiology and public health each summer.
For those who did not have a chance to know Dr. Thacker during his lifetime, the library will serve as a continuation of his legacy of learning and scientific excellence.
“We honor Steve with the naming of this library today,” Koplan said. “But we honor CDC by naming this library after one of our most illustrious leaders.”
Exactly a year ago I lost my dad to CJD. It’s a strange realization to think it has been a whole year and we survived the initial heartache. Where did this past year go to? I mean – it has flown by. I guess it took at least 6 months to crawl out of the emotional shock of everything and of course the massive amount of paperwork that comes with someone dying, but, now that it is here, it is still rather shocking.
Things are going well, the family is healthy and mom is learning to live without dad while still remembering him every day. His picture frame is giving a kiss by my nephew each time he visits mom and we often think to ourselves – “How would Steve handle this?” It is certainly not easy, but the waves of sadness come less frequently and the memories of him while he was sick are fading, to be replaced with happy memories and things he did that can still make one laugh.
This morning we visited dad’s grave at Honeycreek Woodlands. It was a freezing with the windchill, but we were happy to say a prayer for him and the family, place fresh flowers, and see the new bench that was set nearby with the inscription “Luz de mi vida.” (This means light of my life and was something that dad always said to mom.) Looking out into the pasture that the site overlooks were stunning cloudless blue skies and tall grasses blowing in the crisp breeze. It was gorgeous and every time we visit we are happy to have selected this spot to visit and remember dad.
I miss my dad so very much. Most nights when I let the dog out I like to look up at the sky and tell him good night and thank you for all he gave me and others. There is not a single day that passes that I do not remember him – his smile, a witty remark, embarrassing dance moves or simply an article or movie I know he would have loved.
I wish he was here to see everything I’ve been doing. I hope he is proud of me, as he definitely was an influence on my life. I know he is still with me as I feel his presence, but it’s just not the same here anymore without him. Mom misses him so very much, but we try to be strong for each other as I know that’s what he would have wanted.
So we made it! The first holidays without a loved one are always the hardest they say. I can say that I completely agree with that sentiment. Christmas last year was a blur as we were caring for dad while I myself was recovering from major surgery. It was a blessing to have been able to share that last Christmas with him and then of course his 65th birthday on Dec. 30th.
This year was just about learning to survive the holidays and create new memories and traditions. We still had our usual Christmas dinner of shrimp curry and Spanish pork – yes different, but a lot more fun than turkey. Mom cooked the pork as usual and Gabbi took over for dad by making an excellent shrimp curry. At the end of the meal we took a few minutes to remember my dad.
The wonderful hospice that we worked with, Journey Hospice, made a point to get in touch with my mom before the holidays to provide her with some ways to remember my dad and help the family cope. At the end of the meal we all read a small thought on remembrance and lit a candle for dad. It was sad but heartwarming and encouraging too. Remembering and honoring dad at Christmas was part of our healing experience.
He loved the holidays and though there was a different feel to opening the gifts it was still joyful. It’s the little things that change and the new roles that had to be assumed. For example, Dad always made sure we recycled everything we could while unwrapping, he remembered to call family in Missouri, and he always listened to Bing Crosby and Elvis singing those classic holiday songs – Blue Christmas will always make me think of dad. We still did all these things of course, but they came with more hesitation as we thought to ourselves, “Dad normally does this.”
But in the end, it was a good Christmas and little Noah, my nephew, was definitely a joy to behold as he experienced opening presents and playing with toys. He reminds us of dad now that he is running around. You can completely see how much he is built like him – sturdy :-) This little man certainly helped us all remember that my dad lives in him and the rest of us.
Visiting dad’s grave on his birthday Dec. 30 – he would have been 66 years old. It was a gorgeous day.
The holidays are gone now and we are grateful to have each other and such an amazing community who continues to support us and remember dad.
I cannot believe how time has flown by. Summer is over and it seems like fall never happened with how chilly it is outside. This time last year the family was preparing for our last Thanksgiving with dad. We had just learned the diagnosis but dad was still doing well and being as funny and positive as ever.
The emotions I expect to go through this holiday season will most likely run the gamut. Happy, sad, excited, tired, hopeful, stressed, fearful, grateful, and sorrowful to name a few. It is typically my favorite time of year. I don’t want to say I’m fearful of how this will all play out but it will most likely be bittersweet.
I am so grateful to having amazing friends and family to celebrate and share life with this season, but at the same time it will be sad since there will be so many reminders of dad. I expect to be singing along to radio Christmas music and then be reminded of dad the moment Elvis’ Blue Christmas comes on because he always sang along mimicking The King. This isn’t a bad memory of course-quite a funny one actually, just one that still makes me cry. Then there is the Entertainment Weekly coming in the mail previewing the movies that will roll out this holiday season. Daddy loved reading up on what Hollywood was going to dazzle or disappoint us all with; and he would see them all no matter how obscure the film was. I’m sure with time I’ll smile instead of cry about all this but the memories will be heavy this year.
We have received notes from others remembering dad this time of year. EIS selections are about this time and he would be reviewing resume after resume for that perfect class. He would consider each candidate fairly and see what unique aspect they could bring to the program. >> Then of course it’s basketball season. There would be a Thanksgiving tournament then the Christmas Classic at St. Pius. Coaching was one of dad’s favorite things and this time of year he was knee deep in practices and games. So many great memories this time of year that are shared by many others.
Dad absolutely loved Thanksgiving. Yes, he loved the turkey, stuffing, pie, and most of the other fixin’s, but more than that he loved the idea of the holiday. Expressing gratitude – whether it be to God; for his family and friends; cooking and sharing a bountiful meal; or just simply being thankful for what he had.
So, what we need to remember is that, there is always something to celebrate and be grateful for. A good meal, roof over our heads, good health, that unexpected gift from a loved one, or simply a hug when you really need it. Surround yourself with people that you love and admire during the holiday season. And remember that we really should be grateful and selfless throughout the year. Dad always put others before himself; an example we all should follow.
And to all those who celebrate Hanukkah I wish you every happiness at Hanukkah and a year filled with many blessings.
It’s Father’s Day and I miss Dad. I’ve been dreading all the “firsts” since he died but this one’s definitely one of the hardest. My father, Stephen B. Thacker, MD, MSc, RADM/ASG, retired, USPHS
died on February 15, 2013 from Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), a rare human prion disease which is rapidly progressive and always fatal. He was perfectly fine one day, then started fading on us and
suddenly was gone; all in a matter of 4 months. There are so many words that can describe a loss like this…shocking, heart retching, and maddening to name a few.
This first year without my father will be one of the hardest; especially Father’s Day.
Father’s Day is a holiday for celebrating all dads, whether the dad is married, single, a stepfather, or adoptive father – they all help to influence and shape a person. So, I decided to sit down and listen to Dad’s VoiceQuilt; it seemed like a great way to remember him.
Launching a VoiceQuilt was how I was able to collect memories about my father so that my children could know him and the family could always remember him. I listened to several people express love and gratitude towards my father for his generosity, compassion, leadership, humility, and love. We received messages from everywhere…home in Atlanta, Colorado, California, and New Jersey, to overseas in China, Australia, and Zambia. Each story was like a hug from a friend or a hug from my Dad, as stories generated a personal memory with my father. With each story, I’d hear about the many wonderful attributes that made up my father: integrity, empathy, vision, courage, passion, and intelligence – whether that be in science, sports, history or music.
I’m not going to lie. I had tears streaming down my face while listening to the VoiceQuilt. At first it was raw pain, but as I listened I realized these memories are what will sustain me when I need to remember Dad in more detail in a few years; when I need to laugh about something he did; think about how he would approach a problem; or simply, realize he did matter and he is remembered by more than just my family and I.
The VoiceQuilt is more than simple recordings…it is an actual quilt that is hugging me with my Dad’s memories. They celebrate my Dad, what he believed in, and what he did for others. Whenever I hear the messages there may always be tears, but there will also be smiles, love and memories.
I’ve only been missing Dad a short while but know that I will always remember him. It might be frightening at times to remember, but it’s worse if you forget. A father’s impact on one’s life, no matter how insignificant, matters and should be remembered. The memories are what will allow us to heal and grow. Over time the tears will lessen and the smiles will grow; I know that.
It’s Father’s Day and I miss my dad but I remember him.
Happy Father’s Day.
Losing a loved one is part of life. I know that; we all do. But when it actually happens, even when you know it’s coming, it is one of the most heart-wrenching feelings. There
are so many things that you miss. Seeing that person come around a corner, hugging them, learning from them, sharing your life with them, even arguing with them. But….even though they are
no longer here, life does go on. That is one of the hardest things to grasp at first. But this post isn’t about the 5 stages of grief…Lordy…I think when dad was diagnosed my family had no
choice but to start rushing through that model anyway. I think anger, depression and acceptance will be a struggle for some time.
What I did find since the funeral is that many of you have emailed and sent cards about how this experience has moved you to do something positive with your life. (Don’t worry…I’m not naming names here.) It gives us great joy that through this tragedy there is some hope or good that grows. Two people have written saying that they have rekindled their relationship with an estranged parent after more than 6 years. Others found a spiritual awakening which they had been seeking for some time. While many other simply spent time visiting with or remembering a loved one they may have stopped seeing as often or forgotten to bring flowers to. Finally there are those who have made donations to those in need, whether a financial donation or one of your time.
For this, I am going to call out the CDC EAP Office who was kind enough to send me a photo of their volunteer day with family at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. The ACFB has received many donations in dad’s name but volunteer time is always a very welcome thing too. (I personally think it is much more rewarding than just writing a check.) Thank you for the EAPO for doing this. Dad is certainly all smiles for all the positive that has come from his passing. I know that the Fund we have established in his name will also be put to good use – hope to have details on that soon.
It has been a while since I posted. To be honest, the family just needed to breathe a little and try to start to process what has happened since dad’s passing. The funeral planning was
shockingly exhausting and the climax of the actual day is like crashing into a mass of confusion, love, grief, and a step towards healing all at once. I still don’t understand the quiet that
follows a day like that. After months of exhaustion and work; it all stops and the silence when you come home if deafening.
The service was wonderful and the turnout was truly a blessing. To be surrounded by so many who loved/respected/admired (take your pick) dad so much was healing for many of the attendees. Though the day’s purpose was sorrowful, I know that we were there remembering my father’s life. Not the illness that took him or his death.
My father’s passions and contributions were so perfectly highlighted in Dr. Koplan’s eulogy. I cannot thank him enough for spending the time and effort on what I know was one of the harder speeches he has had to write in his lifetime. To make us all laugh and cry – to cover every aspect of my dad from his childhood, to basketball, to work, love of family, and stamp-collecting was not an easy task, but Jeff took it on wholeheartedly and with passion.
I am sure the family was not able to thank everyone person that made the funeral or reception, but please know we appreciate your being there. Many virtual hugs from the Thacker family to you.
Please contact us if you would like a memorial card.
So it has been a week since my dad passed. I can't believe how fast time fly's sometimes. Though we knew it was coming, when dad left us it was still a shock...nothing can prepare you for it. The disease was so fast, so quickly took him from us, that it gave us no time to process anything as we cared for him. I still don't think we really are processing what has happened over the last 2 months and only time will give us that opportunity.
There are so many ways we all get our hearts broken throughout our lives but this one is one of the more painful. For most of us, our father is the first man in our lives, the one us girls measure all other men up to and in my case I most certainly did. Nothing will be able to fill this hole that I have. I know it will heal over time and I will feel better. I know life will go on as it always does, but a scar will remain. I will always remember my dad and miss his hugs, humor and smile.
I look forward to sharing all the memories you all have given our family with my children one day. Each day we are able to read your condolence messages or a warm memories about dad and it helps make things a little better. It will be wonderful to look back on these when we need to remember him. We thank you for this; each of your posts is like getting a hug or smile from him. Keep them coming :-)
We do hope you will be able to make the funeral. It will be a Catholic mass but all are welcome to attend and we are making the service as comfortable for all faiths as possible. After the service the family will receive guests at a reception to celebrate my dad's life at the Retreat of Dunwoody, about 15 minutes from the church. Again, all are welcome. If you are not able to attend services Saturday, the family will also receive guests on Friday, March 8 at the old IHM church.
I sign off today with mixed emotions. Sad because my father is no longer among us; grateful to a community that my father has brought together, though the circumstances may have been unfortunate; confused about how to go on living and not being able to share new experiences with dad or ask him for advice; and happy to know that everything will be OK in time.
Lots of virtual hugs and smiles to those out there who I know also miss him.
This weekend we opened our doors to family friends and dad's colleagues. After last Tuesday's event at the CDC we realized that there were many in the community who are really part of an extended family of sorts to us at the CDC and who may want to come sit with dad. Arranging appointments is challenging so an open-house with a gap of time seemed a good idea. When we decided to do this, we were not really sure what to expect, tons of people, nobody? It was anybody's guess.
Well, Saturday, came and so did the visitors and I am grateful to say that on both days, all visitors were kind, respectful, patient, and a real source of strength and joy for dad, mom, Gabbi and me. It was wonderful to hear the stories about dad from the visitors of how they met him, how he impacted their lives, and how they will remember him. It is this, how they will remember him and the fact that he will be remembered, that gives us strength.
So many said that their visit was more than expected. Whether it was a smile, a nod, or a squeeze of a hand, they knew dad could hear them and understand that they were here to see him, and tell him a story or thank him in some way.
Dad is now resting from his rather eventful weekend. I do believe it gave him a burst of energy to see so many people. I hope that those who were able to come this weekend found their visit fulfilling in some way, whether it was to say thank you or goodbye. There is a possibility that we will do this again for a day this upcoming weekend, but as always this is dependent on dad's health as it is always changing.
And so to sign off today, I am going to let everyone know that dad gave a thumb's up and a smile when asked about seeing everyone. So thank you to those who could make it and we appreciate how lovely everyone was.
Wow! Yesterday was a whirlwind! Thank you all SO very much. I cannot believe the amount of people who attended. We were told a lot of people were coming but seeing it in person is always another story altogether. I cannot believe how many stories and thank yous I heard yesterday; dad has touched and inspired so many, I am proud to be his daughter. We were very happy to come home and learn that dad was able to stay awake to watch some of the ceremony remotely and did recognize what was going on.
Thank you for the kind words that Dr. Frieden, Dr. Fraser, Dr. Broome and Dr. Koo said. Also the words of love and respect we received from Dr. Satcher, Dr. Banta, Dr. Rosenberg, Dr. Cordero, Dr. Besser, Dr. Roper, Dr. Foege, Dr. Popovic, and many more will stay with us for our lifetime. I grew up among these leaders and to hear them honor my father means so much. I must say I most enjoyed hearing from all the current and past EIS officers. So many fun interview stories with my dad. I can only imagine what kind of random questions he brought up during an interview.
Dad's cousin Bill and his daughter Shauna where also able to attend and I know this is terribly hard for the family back in dad's homestate of Missouri. Dad is an only child and Bill and his family are the only extended family we have nearby. We were so grateful to have them present yesterday to see where dad has dedicated his career. I know we will be traveling to the Show Me state soon to see the rest of the family and I look forward to showing them the video from yesterday.
Finally I do want to note that yesterdays event was quite an undertaking to put together. The media/video/communications team, the volunteers, the security, and the crew that cleans up after its over really deserve a lot of props for putting it all together in the end. We didn't have much time to plan it all and to have the event come out so perfectly was a blessing.
I was also informed of the following numbers: a total of 583 people attended in person, an additional 236 people watched via live webcast, and another 1,441 CDC staff watched the event on IPTV, for a total of 2,260 people!
On behalf of my family, thank you all again for taking the time to attend yesterday whether in person, virtually or in spirit. It is reassuring and brings a sense of peace to know he will not be forgotten.
On Friday, February 1, 2013 Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin awarded the Surgeon General’s Medallion to Stephen Thacker, MD, MSc, ASG/RADM (ret.), USPHS. The honor was given for his “exceptional contributions to the USPHS USPHS Commissioned Corps., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the science and practice of public health.” The medallion is the highest honor that a Surgeon General can confer on an individual or organization.
It is also the highest award of the US Department of Health and Human Services. The medal is awarded in the name of the US Surgeon General for actions of exceptional achievement to the cause of public health and medicine. It is awarded by the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, which is led by the US Surgeon General.
There are more pictures available in the photo gallery of the website.
Well, we all know this but dad sure loves to read, write and research and who would know this better than the folks at the CDC Library. According to Dr. Zaza who works with dad, he has
always been one of CDC Library’s “power users” – love that term.
The librarians recently collected all of Steve’s publications into a Libguide (subject matter or person-specific collections) and posted it to the following link: http://libguides.phlic.cdc.gov/Thacker
Dr. Zaza also states “The sheer volume of his life’s work is a testament to his intellectual contributions to public health.” I would agree to that. I would like to say thank you to the CDC Library staff and contractors Becky Satterthwaite, Steve Foote, Emily Weyant, Joe Bryce and Cate Canevari for creating an online tribute to my dad with all of his publications. The family really appreciates you taking the time to put this together to showcase his work and legacy. Your love and respect for him are appreciated and brought a smile to dads face. Thank you a million times over.
All I can say on behalf of my family is THANK YOU & WOW! We are so grateful to this community for the amazing things you provide us each day. Lovely cards and letters, gifts including a Lazboy, yummy wine and cheese, olive oil, Starbucks coffee, the many meals, baked goods, a workout bike, Christmas ornaments, a handicap ramp, and other keepsakes. All of these wonderful things make life a little better, especially your cards and letters which we read to dad. Thank you to those who have made donations to the Atlanta Community Food Bank and the CJD Foundation in dad's name as well; we are informed of these as well. We wish we had time to write a thank you letter to each of you, but for now this post will have to suffice.
Dad knows that you all are out there sending him well wishes and prayers. We do communicate your emails and messages to him and he appreciates everything you are doing for him and the family. Please know that. I think this quote encompasses my dad's life and fits with this post --- and it's from one of dad's many favorite authors.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thank you all again. Lots of love and hugs.
Dad had a great day on his birthday, Dec. 30th, surrounded by a small group of close friends. Steve enjoyed some cake and ice-cream on Sunday and really enjoyed seeing everyone. The group perused some old photos of Steve with family and friends, along with great stories that accompanied the photos. We were sure to provide him a booklet of the birthday wishes from the fundraiser site, that mom is reading to him over the next few days. The comments and stories are so uplifting, we cannot thank you enough. A big thank you to the Farabaugh Family (Steve coached their daughter) who donated a recumbent bike so that the funds can be used towards an occupational therapist - to get him moving, and the rising medical costs for Steve.
Last Thursday, Dec. 27, our high school, St. Pius X Catholic High School in Atlanta, honored our dad for coaching countless numbers of girls' basketball players at IHM and St. Pius X for over 20 years. In appreciation of his contribution to the St. Pius X Community, the girls’ locker room has been named in his honor.
When we arrived it was overwhelming to be back at old PiHi, especially to see and be greeted by so many old friends and coaches. This was really the first time the whole family had been out since the diagnosis. The experience was emotional to say the leas, for us and many others in the gym. We always knew how much time and effort dad put into his coaching-we have seen it every day and experienced it first hand when we called him coach; but to see how many people's lives he had influenced over the years was amazing. The moment Coach Kelly asked all the girl's and coaches present who had ever worked with dad, to come take a group photo with him it was shocking to see the stands empty. And the amazing part is, it isn't even close to all of the young women he has coached-it's just a small reprensetation.
We as a family are ever so grateful to St. Pius for this honor to our dad. Knowing that his hard work and dedication to the sport of basketball will live on at the school is something we will treasure.
As I mentioned in my comments on behalf of my family, a coach is not only a role model but also a mentor and teacher. My father encompasses these positions and more in everything he does. He finds strength in each person he meets and coaches, and trains them to believe in themselves and their abilities. I know that his teachings and work ethic will live on in those he has worked with. It has been a blessing for him and our family to be part of the St. Pius community for so long.
Thank you again Coach Sattele, Kristin Vari Dooley, Coach Dunn and Coach Kelly for organizing this dedication for Steve.
Pictures can also be found at: http://smu.gs/YBoNXB
On December 5th, we as a family were given unimaginable news, our father and husband, Steve, has Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD.) We knew it was a possibility but were ever hopeful it was not this tragic news. Knowing the disease is rapidly progressive and always fatal was heartbreaking. Though we are grateful for every moment we still have left with him, seeing a man of his brilliance, sense of humor and love deteriorate is horribly painful for family, friends, and co-workers.
We cannot express how thankful we are to the hundreds of well-wishes, meals, donations, prayers, thoughts, etc we have received from the community. It has been an overwhelming amount of support that we will be forever thankful for. We still have a difficult road ahead of us and we hope to keep dad’s community from CDC to basketball, to family and friends, aware of what is happening through the main website and this blog.