September 8, 2015: Dr. Agatha Thrash, a well-known leader among independent health ministries operated by Adventists, died Friday (September 3) as the Labor Day Weekend began. She was 84 years of age and suffered “complications from a stroke that occurred several months ago,” announced the Southern Union Conference chapter of Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASI), the largest association of “self-supporting” or independent ministries organized by Adventists.
Thrash was “a world renowned expert on natural health remedies and vegetarian cuisine,” reported the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Together with her late husband, Dr. Calvin Thrash, she co-founded in 1970 the Uchee Pines Natural Health and Lifestyle Center in Seale, Alabama, and the Country Life Natural Food Store and Vegetarian Restaurant in Columbus, Georgia. Both towns are near Fort Benning on the boundary between the two states in the deep South of the United States.
The couple was “quite a team,” the newspaper quoted Dr. Tom Theus, a retired physician who worked in Columbus for 35 years and was a friend of the family. “They were pioneers in preventive medicine and did a great job in training medical missionaries and treating a lot of patients with simple remedies and had good results in most cases.” They coauthored 15 books.
Thrash was chief pathologist at St. Francis Hospital in Columbus and her husband was an internal medicine specialist in private practice when they joined the Seventh-day Adventist denomination in the 1960s. She was born in Baxley, Georgia, and did her undergraduate education at Berry College and the Georgia State College for Women, completing medical school at the Medical College of Georgia.
Often interviewed on health topics for a variety of television programs and training videos. She was a member of the Uchee Pines Adventist Church and led a Sabbath School class at Columbus Adventist Church.
The newspaper quoted her daughter, Ann Thrash-Trumbo: “It was even difficult to buy whole wheat flour in Columbus in the 1960s. And whole grain rice was hard to find.” The two doctors started a health food store to help their patients, special ordering things like peanut butter without added sugar. One of the first community health programs they started was a day camp for overweight girls.
“Mom just put a little classified ad” in the newspaper, Thrash-Trumbo remembers. “I think we had about 15 to 18 girls that first summer and we ran it for about four years.”
As a pathologist, Thrash had a goal to establish a large lab to process tests for doctors throughout the region. But when she became an Adventist, “Jesus got a hold of her and said ‘I have a different way I want you to go, not just making a lot of money. I want you to change lives.’ And she did.”
A memorial service was held at 11 a.m. on Sunday (September 6) in the chapel on the campus of the Uchee Pines Institute, according to an announcement from the ASI organization. Thrash was “well known for her common sense wisdom [and] health ministries frequently consulted her for her insight,” the ASI bulletin stated.