Fred Thaxton: the man behind the beard
You can’t miss it. It falls gloriously down from his chin like a silvery waterfall of hair from the heavens above. In fact, anyone who doesn’t know Fred Thaxton probably wouldn’t remember anything from a chance encounter in the hall besides his massive beard.
And with good reason too. Thaxton’s bristly-bib is indeed fascinating. But the back story is just as interesting as the mane itself.
It all started back when Thaxton was a junior in college, in the early 80’s. At the age of 24, Thaxton and a group of friends went on a cross-country bike trip, travelling over 10,000 miles from Kent, Ohio to Seattle. On the bike trip, the men shared a single disposable razor, which is when Thaxton chose to grow out his beard.
And so, a legend was born.
“It just stuck,” says Thaxton, commenting on how long it has been since he was last clean shaven. And he’s definitely right about that. Mr. Thaxton’s beard is more than just magnificent facial hair, it’s become an identity. Many students and teachers might not even recognize him without his beard.
But despite what other people might think, Thaxton’s uniqueness is not just beard-deep. Aside from growing impressive whiskers, Thaxton also avidly grows garlic. He and his wife grow 14 different variations of garlic in a plot behind their home, and sell it at local farmers’ markets and around the community. In fact, they were recently crowned the king and queen of the Shaker Garlic Festival.
Another of Thaxton’s lesser-known hobbies might seem strange to many but, to him, it’s only expanding on a lifelong hobby.
“I’ve loved bird-watching for years,” says Thaxton. So it made perfect sense for him to begin collecting road kill. From small rodents to full size deer, Thaxton has put all kinds of animals up on a bird-of-prey feeder in his back yard. And, in return, all kinds of birds stop to visit. From red shouldered hawks to great horned owls, many different birds frequent Thaxton’s feeder, looking for a meal. “Most weekends I just wake up, grab a cup of coffee, and go watch the birds.”
And so, for over 16,000 cloves of garlic, for flocks of birds satisfied, and for 29 years of bearded glory and countless more yet to come, the Black and Gold salutes you, Fred Thaxton.