Colonel Terry Thacker passes

Popular Indiana bluegrass radio host Terry Thacker died on May 31.

For nearly 30 years he hosted Colonel Terry’s Bluegrass Corner Sunday mornings on WAWK, 95.5 The Hawk in Kendallville, IN. Until the station began simulcasting their signal online, Terry’s show mostly hit people in Kendallville, north of Fort Wayne, but he was known more widely within the Northern Indiana Bluegrass Association, where the Colonel was a regular announcer at their two annual bluegrass festivals.

Thacker was a native Kentuckian, growing up in Hindman not far from where the Osborne Brothers were raised. There was bluegrass in his family, as his dad’s cousin was fiddler Art Stamper, known for his work with The Stanley Brothers, Larry Sparks, Jimmy Martin, Ralph Stanley, The Goins Brothers, and The Osborne Brothers. Terry was a fiddler as well, but his biggest contributions were behind the radio microphone.

After serving in the US Army for six years, he made the move to northern Indiana with his family, where he lived the remainder of his life.

The idea for a local bluegrass radio program for Kendallville was Terry’s idea, which he pitched to WAWK. They agreed, starting with a half hour slot, which was eventually expanded to three full hours, from 9:00 a.m. to noon every Sunday. It was the local connection for bluegrass fans in the area, where he favored traditional bluegrass, both new and classic.

When we spoke with Thacker in 2014 about his show, he shared what he loved most about this music.

“It’s an American original and like no other music. It has passed down from generation to generation ever since it first came to prominence in 1945 with Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass Music. It isn’t bound by the instruments but through the creativity of its musicians. It has crossed into other genres and songs, and has influenced other artists outside of bluegrass. It’s a living, breathing music.”

Colonel Terry’s Bluegrass Corner regularly included interviews he recorded with top bluegrass artists, through which he came to be friends with many touring acts in our business.

Friends and fans within the region remember Terry Thacker as a kind and friendly soul, many lamenting how they will miss chatting with him at the NIBGA festivals each year, where he always had time to share a few words with festival goers when he wasn’t announcing on stage. He had been hoping to MC at their recent Memorial Day festival, but didn’t feel well enough to attend.

A small private family gathering was held for his burial.

R.I.P., Terry Thacker.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.