Stish’s life and influence remembered, Fatal crash claimed ‘a great role model’

Published 11:14 pm Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Buckingham community is mourning the loss of native son Thurston “Thor” Stish, a well-known 19-year-old volunteer firefighter, VDOT employee, hunter and friend who died in a single-vehicle accident on New Year’s Eve.

The Buckingham resident was killed late Thursday when he crashed his truck on Woodland Church Road in Yogaville — only a few miles from his home. According to State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller, the crash occurred at 9:45 p.m.

“A 2006 Chevrolet Silverado was traveling south on Route 604. As the vehicle came into a curve, it ran off the right side of the road, struck a ditch, overturned and then struck a tree,” she said.

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Stish, who died at the scene, was not wearing a seatbelt, she said, and was ejected from the truck.

“The passenger, Travis L. Jamerson, 20, was also not wearing a seatbelt and was also thrown from the truck He was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of serious injuries.”

She said the crash remains under investigation.

Stish attended public schools in Buckingham and a private school in the Yogaville community, where he was raised.

“Everyone that ever met Thor always spoke highly of how thoughtful he was of others and how easy he was to laugh, how polite he was,” Thor’s father, George, said. “He acted well beyond his years.”

“He remembered everybody’s name,” George said. “He knew their family and their cousins and their friends. It was just like he lived here forever.”

“He couldn’t wait to join the fire department,” his father said of Thor joining the Toga Volunteer Fire Department. “He was just chomping at the bit to turn 16 so he could join.”

While attending Buckingham County High School, Thor became very involved in carpentry and auto mechanics classes, George said. Thor would go on to win an award for his carpentry skills at the State Fair of Virginia.

“[They] loved the boy to death,” George said of the affection his hunting friends showed his son.

Thor served the community as a firefighter for about one year, his father said, and was a junior firefighter for about two years before that. While he was a volunteer, Thor achieved his Firefighter I certification.

“He turned out to every call. Even when he was a junior firefighter, he knew he couldn’t do much other than roll hose or put tools away, [but] he showed up and that’s what he did. Every fundraiser we ever had he was there helping out.”

Thor cleaned the Buckingham VFW Hall weekly for many years, George said. “All the guys [and girls] down there think of him as a son.”

Before working for VDOT’s Bridge Crew, Thor worked for Gilliam Motors in Dillwyn, his father said.

Recently, Thor had begun riding and working with horses, Stish said.

“The last couple months of his life he was very, very satisfied with his job and with his life and coming back here and being with us,” George said. “He was very content to be here.”

“We are mourning Thor Stish’s passing while celebrating his joyful life,” said Ernest Siva Moore, the executive director of Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville. “He was a great kid with a wonderfully positive attitude about life. His smile lit up the room.”

Moore said Thor’s death has been painful for the close-knit interfaith community.

“Thor loved to hunt and fish and work on cars and trucks. He truly loved his truck,” he said, calling Thor a gentle soul. “I knew him since the day he was born.”

Moore worked alongside Thor’s grandfather, Bhagavan Metro, in helping Swami Satchidananda build Yogaville.

“Thor was a gifted mechanic,” Moore said. “He and his dad helped us build our volunteer fire department. …”

Moore said that Thor was the “kind of guy who was always ready to pitch in and help a neighbor and loved doing it, whatever the task. He attended our Yogaville private school, then on to Buckingham middle and high schools, graduating in 2014.”

“Yogaville is only 200 residents in Buckingham, but thousands around the world. Many people who visited Yogaville over the years met Thor as he was growing up. His loss touches the entirety of our global community as well as his many friends all over Buckingham,” Moore said. “His death has brought together people who haven’t been in touch for some time. It has created a new bond among friends to remind us how this could be any one of us.”

Brian Bates, the chief of Toga Volunteer Fire Department, said everyone in the department had a very high opinion of Thor.

“I’ve known the family for a decade or more … Just watching the relationship that Thor and his dad had was really quite remarkable. It was more than a father-son relationship. It was really best friends.”

He agreed that Thor’s love for the community was evident through his service to the fire department. “It’s quite unusual for a person of his age to have a level of dedication to the community … It was certainly something that Thor had, and I have no doubt that he got that from his mom [Cassandra] and dad.”

Bobby Hudgins, who served alongside Thor in the fire department, said he was a “fine, upstanding young man in the community.”

Hudgins called Thor “a great asset to all the fire services in the community and a great role model to the younger members in all the department.”