Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs Human Resources Director John Thrasher smiled and laughed Wednesday as he reflected on his lengthy career with the city.
Considering his many roles in Steamboat Springs government, Thrasher said he actually has enjoyed several different careers here, each with steep learning curves. He started in September 1981 as director of the Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department. In 1990, he was appointed assistant city manager. And in 1995, he became director of human resources after performing those duties the previous three years. He even had a six-week stint as city clerk in 1992.
“One thing that I always appreciated with John, no matter what role he played with the city, he always did the best job he could,” said former City Council President Loui Antonucci, a council member from 1989 to 1993 and again from 2001 to 2009. “He was always one of those people who had a positive attitude, and no matter which way the winds were blowing, he was a team player.”
After more than 30 years and three careers with the city, Thrasher is retiring. His last day is Thursday.
“Working for the city has so many rewards associated with it, at least it has for me,” Thrasher said. “Being able to contribute to a community, being able to help people succeed as employees, being at the heart of what a community is about is so exciting for me.
“City government is so dynamic. It’s hard for me to think about being here for 30 years. I’m as energized as I was 30 years ago as Parks and Recreation director. It’s the dynamics of it. You see really good people accomplishing really good things every day.”
Trasher joked that he and his wife, Sandy, grew up in Steamboat, having moved from Ohio in June 1972. He was 21 at the time.
After working in residential and commercial painting during the “boom days” at the base of Steamboat Ski Area — including a stint as his own boss for Thrasher Painting — and two years as a math, Earth science and physical education teacher at Hayden High School, he applied for the Parks and Recreation director job.
Thrasher said it was time to use his education. He has a degree in health, physical education and recreation from Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio.
Thrasher said he could talk all day about the things that make him most proud of his time with the city, but a few in particular stood out. They include the Triple Crown baseball and softball tournaments coming to and staying in Steamboat; facilitating Vision 2020; and various community beautification projects.
Nancy Kramer, who chaired the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association’s Beautification Committee in the mid-1980s, said Thrasher was supportive of the group’s efforts to enhance the city’s existing assets. She cited his work on Dr. Rich Weiss Park, downtown flowers and encouraging business owners and residents to improve the aesthetics around their businesses and homes.
Kramer, who later worked with Thrasher in her role as chairwoman of the Steamboat Springs Arts Council and as a City Council member from 2001 to 2005, said he always has been “attentive, rational and takes a common-sense approach.”
“He’s credible,” she said. “He’s always held himself to a high standard of professionalism and accountability as a public employee. And his dependability. He was always there, whether he was the direct resource or he could put you together with the right resource.”
When former Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord joined the city, Thrasher already had been there more than a decade. DuBord retired earlier this year after nearly 19 years with the city. She said Thrasher always was the guy who could help out or answer any question.
DuBord said that’s what the city will miss the most.
“To me, John has always been the person you could go to for historical information, really, assistance for everything,” she said. “He was always giving of his time and knowledge.”
Thrasher said he and Sandy will move away from Steamboat because they’ve tired of the long winters. But it always will be the special place where they raised their sons, former Olympian Craig and T.J., who owns Sol Solutions.
The Thrashers already have bought a log cabin in Delta on 3 1/2 acres. Thrasher is going to be a fruit farmer growing peaches, apples, apricots, plums and cherries.
“I can’t wait to get down there so I can dive into it,” Thrasher said.
“I’ve had the most amazing and fun ride working for the city and being a part of this community. I can’t overemphasize it enough.”
To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com