- Ada, Oklahoma

July 18, 2013

Bill Thrash

The Ada News

Oklahoma City —

Services for William Carroll "Bill" Thrash, 73, of Oklahoma City, formerly of Ada, are at 1 p.m. Friday at Criswell Funeral Home Chapel in Ada. Heard Broadrick and John Hargrave are officiating. Burial follows at Rosedale Cemetery. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 23, at Hahn-Cook/Street and Draper Funeral Home, Oklahoma City.

OETA Television executive Bill Thrash died Monday, July 15, 2013, in Oklahoma City. He was born Sept. 25, 1939, in Ada to Guy Harold Thrash and Lucille Loyce Williams Thrash.

He is survived by his wife, Billie, of the home, and a sister, Ann Louise Thrash Jones of Pauls Valley.

For more than 25 years, Mr. Thrash served OETA as head of programming and production and then station manager. He began his television career in 1955 while still in high school with KTEN, an ABC affiliate in his hometown of Ada. He started as a cameraman and then progressed through many other positions including director, traffic managerpromotion director and program manager until his graduation from East Central University.

After a stint in the Army, he then moved to Oklahoma City, where in 1962, he joined the production staff at KOCO-TV and ultimately became program manager. It was during those years in addition to directing and/or producing local Channel 5 shows such as Lunch with Ho Ho, The Ida B Show, the Gomer Jones OU Coaches Show, Nightmare with Count Gregore and many Oklahoma City University music specials, among so many others, that Mr. Thrash also was hired to direct several of the syndicated Bar S Jamboree country music specials. Then he was tapped by Lee Allan Smith to direct for eight years The Stars and Stripes Show, a live from Oklahoma City, star-studded patriotic series of Fourth of July variety specials which aired on NBC, headlined by Bob Hope. During this time, he was also directing the annual Western Heritage Awards at what has now become the Western Heritage Museum.

In 1971, he moved to WKY-TV (now KFOR) as assistant program manager and later became station manager. 

From local programming such as Dannysday, the OCU Christmas Specials produced with Carveth Osterhaus, Bill Banowsky Visits, OU Football Playback and PM Magazine; he also took on outside projects such as The Diamond Jubilee Show, a celebration of Oklahoma’s 75th anniversary as a state, the syndicated music special Hoyt Axton Live!, and over 50 episodes each of the nationally syndicated country music shows Nashville on the Road and Pop! Goes the Country. 

In 1988 he joined the staff of OETA, the Oklahoma statewide network & PBS affiliate, where his first assignment was to helm the ambitious idea of then-OETA Executive Director and current OETA Foundation President Bob Allen, the five-hour award-winning miniseries Oklahoma Passage. This partnership with OETA and Bob Allen also produced the still-running syndicated series of Lawrence Welk Shows and specials for PBS. Statewide productions included Stateline, Gallery, Oklahoma City Metro, the OETA Movie Club, The Piano Hour, Oklahoma City Weekly, A Conversation With......, Centennial Stories, The Oklahoma Hall of Fame ceremonies and State of Creativity.

Once again he collaborated with Lee Allan Smith on such additional projects as The State Capitol Dome Dedication, The Memorial Concert Centennial Project, The Oklahoma Centennial Parade and the Oklahoma Centennial Spectacular.  

In addition to being the recipient of six Heartland Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Emmy Awards, Mr. Thrash was also honored with induction into both the Heartland Emmy Silver and Gold Circles. Other honors include the Public Television Programmers Association Programmer of the Year Award and many Savvy Scheduler awards, The Lee Allan Smith Oklahoma Legacy Award from the Oklahoma Heritage Association, a Governor’s Arts Award, The Lifetime Achievement Award from the OKC American Women in Radio and Television and in 2002, Bill was inducted into the Oklahoma Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Additionally, Bill was recently honored when both East Central University and OETA dedicated their television studios in his name.  

As a community, civic and professional leader, Bill has served as past president of Fortune Club, an association of business leaders; The East Central Alumni Association; past president of the East Central Foundation and a board member; The National Television Programming Conference; and past president of the Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma and a board member. He has chaired or served on numerous projects and events committees for many professional, charitable or civic organizations, including “Opening Night,” the Downtown Arts Council of Oklahoma City New Year’s Eve Celebration, The Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, State Chamber of Commerce, Oklahoma Public Schools Foundation, Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts, Allied Arts, United Way, the advisory committee of the Oklahoma Heritage Association and the Western Heritage Awards Committee of the National Western Heritage and Cowboy Museum.

Bill’s other love was music, especially the interpreters of the great American songbook, be it instrumentalists like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Quincy Jones, George Shearing, Marty Paich and the like or vocalists like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, Tony Bennett, The Four Freshmen or the new kid; Tierney Sutton, Diana Krall and John Pizzarelli, to name a few. Bill played the piano and for many years worked professionally in small combos and bands after his work day at the television station.

Special thanks to all the caregivers from Adonis Caregivers Solutions, especially Michael Elsworth and Maraya Kienlen, to Frontier Hospice and to the incredible staff at OETA.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to the OETA Foundation, the East Central University Foundation, the Arts Council of Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Heritage Association, Allied Arts or The Western Heritage Museum.

Obituaries may be viewed and online condolences sent to

Criswell Funeral Home, Ada