A match made at the THP: Richard & Rachel Conaster

Tom KingBlount, Our Town Heroes

’Tis a match made in heaven, so to speak, this marriage of two members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) – Rachel and Richard Conaster. At THP’s District 1 headquarters, where the match was really made, they’re affectionally known as “The Power Couple.”

Rachel is one of two supervisors in the always busy THP Dispatch Center, promoted in January. Richard also was promoted in January to the rank of sergeant and is busy wearing two hats. He is one of two public information officers for District 1 and also is a commander of Troop D, supervising troopers working in Campbell and Scott counties.

With Wednesday being “Happy Valentine’s Day,” we decided it apropos to feature this fun-loving and happy couple, married just more than two years ago on October 17, 2021, followed by a honeymoon in Antigua.

Richard, 50, and Rachel, 34, met five years ago at THP dispatch. “I was taking some holiday treats around to the dispatch crew and I saw Rachel,” he remembers. “I was stunned when we looked at each other. I knew immediately I loved her, right then and there.”

And Rachel? “For me, it was love at first glance.”

Before they recited their vows, a conversation was had about their names. Was Rachel going to retain her maiden name or become Mrs. Richard Conaster? Or perhaps he would take her last name. Richard laughed telling that story. “Her maiden name is Law. Ironic, eh? I could be Sgt. Richard Law. But she said she loves the name Conaster, so here we are,” he said. “Rachel Conaster.”

He didn’t take her name but did move into her Maryville home where they still live.

THP District 1 Commander Capt. Stacey Heatherly wanted to talk about these two THP employees. “I have a soft spot for THP teams, especially the ones where the members are married to each other. Even though Richard and Rachel work in two different divisions of the department, dispatch is the heart of THP, so we are all one and the same. It’s not only exciting for Sgt. Conatser to be promoted almost at the same time as his wife, Rachel, who is now a dispatch supervisor, but it’s also a great asset for the Tennessee Highway Patrol as a whole,” she said.

The sergeant was previously married and has two adult sons. This is her first marriage. She is a Blount County native, graduate of Maryville High School (2007), and a graduate of Roane State Community College with a certification as an Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT). She then worked on ambulances for Rural Metro/AMR. Next, she served as a deputy clerk at the Blount County Sheriff’s Office. She is talented, having played violin, drums and bass guitar in the Maryville High Orchestra.

In 2018 she was hired by the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security to work in dispatch for the THP.

Richard has been a trooper for almost 17 years. He moved into his PIO position in 2023. He’s a member of the THP University of Tennessee football security detail. “I am a huge diehard UT fan and this is a dream job for me.” He also was selected to be a member of the Governor’s Executive Protection Unit and the state’s Honor Guard. He is a field training officer and a THP strike team member.

A native of Kingston, he is a Roane County High School graduate (1992) who was voted as the senior class clown.

Before joining the THP, he spent two years in the U.S. Air Force as an armament systems specialist on F-15 fighter jets. In 1996 he joined the Knox County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy and was there for eight years. Then he was off to Iraq for a year, working for a government contractor supporting the U.S. military in a variety of missions.

Aside from their jobs in law enforcement, the Conasters talk about the things that create a “perfect match.” Both agree that each is “very OCD” (obsessive-compulsive disorder). They’re both neatniks who enjoy cleaning and decluttering their home. Both are quick witted. They’re animal lovers (three dogs in the family).

Richard says he misses being a trooper on the road. “But that’s offset by my being more excited about this role I play now than in my 26 years in law enforcement. I’ve learned so much and I love this path I am on. I put everything I have into this job. I love it. I’m seasoned and ready for this.”

And do they have special plans for Valentine’s Day? “Nope,” Rachel said. “Just get together after work and enjoy a quiet meal and each other’s company and love.”

Tom King has been the editor of newspapers in Texas and California and also worked in Tennessee and Georgia. If you have someone you think we should consider featuring, please email him at the link with his name or text him at 865-659-3562.


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