Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Astronaut Honored in Street Part of West Fifth Renamed for Thagard

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Astronaut Honored in Street Part of West Fifth Renamed for Thagard

Article excerpt

Norm Thagard may have gained fame for traveling in space, but

it's a Jacksonville public street that now bears his name.

To the strains of music from 2001: A Space Odyssey, a

half-mile stretch of West Fifth Street in front of Paxon School

for Advanced Studies was renamed Norman E. Thagard Boulevard

Wednesday.

"I can't imagine a more fitting name for a street that's well

traveled by future pioneers -- our students," said City

Councilman Mike Hogan, a Paxon graduate who sponsored the bill

requesting the name change.

The renaming ceremony, on the grounds in front of the school's

main entrance, was a time for sharing memories, inspiring

students and honoring Paxon's most illustrious graduate.

Thagard, who graduated from Paxon as valedictorian in 1961,

reacted with modesty and gratitude.

"It's a tremendous honor for me, and you can't imagine the

emotion it evokes," said the former astronaut, who teaches

engineering at Florida State University in Tallahassee. "I owe

thanks to a lot of people."

On a more humorous note, he quipped that he couldn't believe he

was being honored in such an appropriate manner. Of the two

speeding tickets the 55-year-old Thagard said he's gotten in his

life, one was in 1961 on the street that now bears his name.

While on his way to class, he was cited for going 3 mph over the

limit in a 15-mph school zone.

"By the time I had gotten to my first class, the word had

circulated, and I was known as the speeder from then on," he

said.

Careerwise, at least, he's been going at a record pace ever

since. Thagard has been a fighter pilot, electrical engineer,

doctor and astronaut. He gained fame for completing five space

missions, including 115 days on the Russian space station Mir.

Thagard, who grew up in Jacksonville, had a message for Paxon's

students: Do your best.

"If you do that, I can't guarantee you will realize your

goals," he said. …

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