The benefactor of the Thrasher Research Fund, E. W. "Al" Thrasher, was born June 30, 1920 in Chelan, Washington. He started working at age 10 to help support his family and was cutting cordwood for sale at age 14. From this early age he combined hard work with innovative improvements. He focused his inventions on reducing waste in the lumber industry, establishing a research facility devoted entirely to improved lumber recovery. Altogether, his inventions enabled lumber producers to reduce waste by over 30%, vitalizing the entire lumber industry. Later, he became Corporate Vice President of Masonite Corporation, was responsible for its lumber division and served on the Board of Directors.
In 1972, Mr. Thrasher merged his inventive spirit with his love for children, donating 2,034 acres of second-growth redwood timber property for medical research. The proceeds from its sale became the endowment for the Thrasher Research Fund. In recognition of his significant contributions to the health of children worldwide, the University of Utah awarded Mr. Thrasher an honorary doctorate degree in May 2003.
Mr. Thrasher took an active role as a member of the Fund's Executive Committee until his death on July 3, 2005.