Tuesday morning, the UTSI family was surprised to learn that Ewing J. Threet died in his sleep early that morning at his home in Manchester. Threet was one of the original founders of The University of Tennessee Space Institute and he was an active supporter of UTSI into his final days.
“Threet was not only involved in the founding of UTSI but he continued to serve as our friend, mentor and supporter for decades,” said Don Daniel, UT Associate Vice President and UTSI Chief Operating Officer. “Just this past week, he attended a Support Council meeting and continued to provide timely and very well reasoned advice on a variety of important UTSI matters,” added Daniel.
While Threet may have sailed into the eternal sunset, he once spent a much stormier time at sea. Threet, then a young Tennessee sailor from Midland in Rutherford County, rode out a typhoon in the Pacific during World War II. It was April 1945 and Americans on Okinawa were fighting the last naval battle of the war, while on a repair ship, the USS Mono Island anchored in Buckner Bay, Threet was dreaming of home and his high school sweetheart, Ann Beachbord of Bell Buckle. As the typhoon approached, the ship attempted to put out to sea, but ran aground on a coral reef instead.
The storm and the war passed by, and Navy Yeoman Second Class Ewing Threet returned home to marry Miss Beachbord and become a dentist. Back at home, Threet met B.H. Goethert, who would become one of his most loyal and famous patients. Drs. Threet and Goethert later joined forces to persuade the state of Tennessee to begin the graduate school near Arnold Engineering Development Center, which would become The University of Tennessee Space Institute.
Since those days of UTSI’s birth, Threet has always served faithfully on UTSI’s Support Council. Threet’s smiling face was a familiar one around campus at UTSI and everyone was always happy to see him. He frequently brought visitors to UTSI to show them the university he was so proud to be a part of. In fact, just a few days prior to his passing Threet had escorted Ray Waldrup from Oak Ridge National Laboratory on a tour, highlighting UTSI’s latest research on carbon fiber.
Threet lived a full life in his 80 years; he and his wife Ann were married for 60 years and had three children, Dianne, Stephen and James, five grandchildren, two step-grandsons, one great grandchild and two step great grandchildren. Threet practiced dentistry in Manchester for 52 years. He served as state senator from 1960-62, and was elected to the Tennessee Constitutional Convention in 1963. He was a member of the Jaycees, the Lions Club, and had helped to restart the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, serving as the first president in 1962. Currently, Threet was the chairman of the Board of the Coffee County Bank, and was a captain in the U.S. Public Health Service.
UTSI has certainly lost one of its biggest fans and most beloved supporters. Funeral services for Threet are set for 3 p.m. Thursday at the Main Street Church of Christ in Manchester with Bro. Westley Hazel officiating.
THREET ACTIVE IN LAST DAYS— Ewing J. Threet, (right), is shown here on Friday, March 2, escorting Ray Waldrup, (center), from Oak Ridge National Laboratory on a tour of UTSI, highlighting UTSI’s latest research on carbon fiber led by Professor Ahmad Vakili, (left).