Pittsburgh: 412-787-1800 | Peters Township: 724-260-5546

Stephen Whitney Thrower

  • On December 15, 2021


Stephen Whitney Thrower, 81, of Eight-Four, PA, formerly of Bethel Park, PA.  Devoted husband of 55 years to Karen Marie (Dedina) Thrower.  Steve was the loving father of Kirsten (Tim Lambert), Jillian (Dan Kammerer), and Wade (Tracy (Shansky) Thrower).  Proud grandfather of Lydia and Elise Kammerer.

He was born on August 9th, 1940, in Kennett, MO, son of the late Whitney and Sydney Thrower.  He graduated from the University of Missouri at Rolla (64’) with a BS in Ceramic Engineering.  He joined the Harbison-Walker Refractories Co. at their Windham, OH plant as a Quality Control Engineer. Steve and Karen’s wedding plans were put on hold by his military draft notice during the Viet Nam conflict but they were finally able to marry during his short leave between basic training and officer’s training school. In 1966, he entered the US Air Force and was later commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant and then enrolled in training as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer.  On graduation, Steve was assigned to the 66th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire, England where he and Karen spent the next four years.

During this time, the base underwent four conversions of its mission aircraft, finishing with the first NATO basing of the F-111E fighter.  Steve and Karen lived in the quaint town of Chipping Norton, between Oxford and Stratford-on-Avon, and Kirsten was born during their stay there in London.

Following his active military discharge in December of 1970, Stevereturned to the US rejoining Harbison-Walker Co. as a Research Engineer at their Garber Research Center in West Mifflin, PA.  Over the next six years, he worked on projects resulting in the development of many new and improved refractory products, the course of which he was named co-inventor on two US patents.  Later he transferred to the company’s Pittsburgh headquarters and was assigned to the Planning Department.  In 1992, Steve took on an additional duty as co-editor of the 5th Edition of Harbison-Walker’s landmark publication “Modern Refractory Practice.”  In his last decade of service with the company, he provided technical services to customers, wrote the material safety data sheets for hundreds of products made by Harbison-Walker, and assisted with matters by serving as an expert of the history of the company’s products.  After retiring in 2000, Steve served for a time as a consultant to Harbison-Walker, focused primarily on Intellectual Property.

Captain Thrower’s Air Force career did not end in 1970.  He received a letter in 1973 inviting him to join a new Reserve unit being formed at the Aeronautical Systems Division (ASD) of the AF Systems Command at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH.  Later, he transferred to the 911th Tactical Airlift Group at the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport.  Alternating between assignments in civil engineering and aircraft maintenance, Steve eventually was named as the Commander of the 911th Civil Engineering Squadron, just as that unit started a period of expansion.  Eventually, there were more than 300 personnel, divided between those assigned at the Pittsburgh airport and those assigned to a newly formed Detachment One, 911th CEW Squadron at the Morgantown WV Municipal airport. The unit was busily engaged in a broad range of construction, maintenance, and support activities at the sites in the IA and abroad.  Before Steve retired in 1990, he had been promoted to the rank of Colonel and had received the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal.  But the recognition he revered the most was that which he received, then and since, directly from the people he worked with at the 911th Airflight Wing.

Steve devoted the last part of his life to enjoying his family, which also includes Dr Thal R Thrower (Patti) and Dr Sydney A. Thrower from Newberg, OR and many nieces and nephews.

We loved him for all his life, and we will miss him for the rest of ours.

A gathering will be held on Saturday, January 15th from 10am – 12pm with Military and religious services at 12pm held at the Pittsburgh Cremation & Funeral Care located on 3287 Washington Rd McMurray, PA 15317.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to DAV chapter 76, In memory of Col. Stephen Thrower, 1411K Harris Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15205.

Leave a Condolence

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Wow, what a fine man! His journey through life was amazing with so many accomplishments. He will be greatly missed! Love and prayers to your family From Bruce Hope and Brady Tallon
1 2