Steve Thacker, a CDC Veteran, Has Passed Away
Steven Ray Thacker was found guilty last week of murdering Dyersburg businessman Ray Patterson and faces additional murder charges in Missouri and Oklahoma in relation to Laci Hill of Bixby’s killing.
Thacker contends in his post-conviction relief request that his trial judge used unfair sentencing practices because they incorporated information unknown to Thacker during sentencing proceedings.
Early Life and Education
Steve Thacker put family first. A self-declared “jack of all trades”, he worked tirelessly to provide his wife and sons with everything they needed. A loving father and grandfather, Steve taught his kids to pursue their goals with dedication.
As an American and a great teacher of his children, he instilled respect for women while encouraging them to follow their goals. A big advocate of female sports, he even helped coach basketball at his daughter’s high school! A true lover of audio/visual, photography and aviation. A life-long fan who enjoyed watching commercial planes take off and land from his Dyersburg home; an exceptional American citizen!
Thacker was an outstanding leader of public health science and its professionals for 37 years at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). As a committed steward of CDC programs, he ensured their viability and credibility; known for his dedication to trainees he saw as future of field; established new programs like Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Program, Public Health Informatics Fellowship Program and Prevention Service and Effectiveness Fellowship; all which continue today under his guidance.
He was also a committed family man and longtime basketball coach; Maria Thacker Goethe recalls him fondly as being an amazing father and husband, an advocate for social justice and an enthusiastic coach of her daughter’s team. Always providing inspiration and motivation through his dedication, integrity and passion, he was truly inspirational to those he inspired as much as those he motivated through basketball coaching.
Achievement and Honors
Thacker was an enthusiastic champion for epidemiology and public health surveillance during his 37-year tenure at CDC, writing over 250 publications on topics like public health surveillance, meta-analyses, infectious diseases, environmental public health, injury prevention and sports medicine.
He was also known to his daughter as an advocate of social justice.
At the ceremony, a portrait of Thacker was unveiled and the Public Health Library and Information Center at CDC was officially named the Stephen B. Thacker CDC Library; additionally, a memorial exhibit was displayed as part of this event that brought together family, friends and colleagues as well as several speakers sharing memories about him as a late scientist and legend at CDC.
Thacker was an attentive husband and father, always striving to provide for his family with all that was necessary for happiness. Additionally, he enjoyed coaching girls’ basketball teams at his daughter’s high school – something he also did himself often as part of his love of sports.
Kimberly Bowen, Thacker’s ex-partner who lived in Huntington West Virginia between 1994-1997, reported that the defendant would often seek approval and become “revved up.” Bowen described times when her ex-husband would become hyperactive and become “not really Steve”.
Kelly and Strawn asserted that Thacker suffered from bipolar disorder, had stopped taking his medications, and went on a 10-day crime spree across three states without medication. At a hearing in February, judges examined various arguments about Thacker’s mental capacity at the time of the crimes; ultimately ruling that he understood proceedings against him and could assist his lawyers in their defense efforts.