Silent Tree Music
TRIBUTE TO A FATHER
WILLIAM ROBERT (BOB) TERRY
( 12-3-20 to 12-23-05 )
Copyright © 2005 - MickTerry.com
Mention the word "inheritance" and most people bring to mind
that big "S" with the two vertical lines running through it
or something related to it concerning possessions or buildings or property.
But for my brother, my sister and I, I think we have gotten so much more.
Our father, William Robert (Bob) Terry, died on Thursday, December 23, 2005, from pneumonia and heart attack after a long struggle with Alzheimer's Disease.
Following are some of the things I inherited from Dad, including genetic attributes and things he taught me or I picked up from observing him or by just being around him or by osmosis. Maybe some of these came from Mom (Ellen), too, because they were so close, it could be difficult to distinguish where the effects of one ended and the other began.
Beginning with the obvious physical characteristics, from my earliest recollections, Dad always had a high receding hairline which was the topic of numerous conversations. Since I wanted to be like Dad, it was only natural that I would want one of those "widow's peaks". It seems I surpassed him in that regard.
Another physical trait I got from him was his big nose ... and then some.
Continuing along the physical line, Dad demonstrated his concern for healthy living and utilizing exercise toward maintaining that. He would frequently do push-ups and sit-ups, but more often would work out with a pair of homemade dumbbell weights he made of two cans filled with cement and connected by a cracked wooden dowel.
He ran. In school, he won track and field events. He would run to (and from) the bus stop going to work at the Baltimore News American (News Post) or Baltimore Sun. In retirement, he would run a mile every day, at first through the farmland roads and later around a self-prescribed course through Carroll Lutheran Village in Westminster, Maryland. At a family get-together on Thanksgiving, 2002, he challenged a nine-year-old relative to a race. He never got to complete that race, tripping over an aberration in the asphalt, hitting his head. Two sub-doral hematomas and various other complications followed. And still, at times, until recently, he ran.
His concern for health extended to never smoking tobacco in any form. In our teen years, he and Mom were pretty smart to offer us the choice to smoke and letting us try smoking with some stale cigarettes, giving us one less thing to rebel against.
Although on special occasions Dad might have a small glass of wine, and with crabs he might have a beer (wasn't that required reading near the Chesapeake Bay?), I never once saw him even the slightest bit inebriated or at the effect of alcohol.
From Dad, I inherited a sense of balance, an evenness, albeit asymmetrical, that extended not only in visual matters such as art, home decoration and packing, but also in life values.
Within that balance, Dad instilled in us a sense of fairness, including racial and sexual tolerance. Although he allowed us to be competitive, it was to be fun and never cutthroat. He taught us baseball, football and other sports, helping me build an award winning soapbox racer.
Besides in sports, Dad was involved and interacted with us kids in various activities and in our lives. He was on the Scouting Committee of Gethsemane Lutheran Church, acting as liaison with the troop. Our family went camping in tents, from Shad Landing and Assateague Island on the Eastern Shore to Swallow Falls and then to the cabins of Harrington Manor of Western Maryland. We did not frequent the usual tourist spots, such as Ocean City, but learned family togetherness and an appreciation of nature.
Every summer, Dad would commute to work from the cottage we rented at Colonial Beach where our family would enjoy swimming, boating, fishing and crabbing and exploring the sandy woods. No luxuries there, the running water was in the buckets we ran with from the hand pump a ¼ mile away. The toilet facilities were thirty yards back in the deluxe two-seater outhouse that Dad designed & built. Dad had my brother and I help build that as well as the tree house further back in the woods. We also pitched in with other maintenance and handyman projects around the shore and the house, including yard work, scraping & painting, tiling the floors, resurfacing the driveway of our Arbutus home.
This was a natural extension from our training to contribute to the family via chores and responsibilities. Besides caring for and attending to the needs of a home and family, I learned a general sense of caring and consideration for others, including putting down the toilet seat and other courtesies and manners.
I learned love and loyalty from Mom and Dad's abundant and ever-present examples. They had dated for 4 years prior to being married for 62 years at the time of his death at age 85. My son Jordan and I wrote a song for them and sang it at their 50th wedding anniversary party:
LOOKS LIKE IT'S FOREVER
© 1994 JORDAN TERRY - MICK TERRY
I'll be loving you
a half-a-hundred more years.
Through whatever else we do,
we always will be so near.
Looks like it's forever;
seems like it was only yesterday.
Looks like it's forever,
so we might as well stay.
More than memories,
we've built a half-a-lifetime.
Friends throughout eternity,
we've been each other's lifeline.
Each Christmas Eve, after my brother, sister and I were asleep in bed, a never-seen Santa Claus would miraculously set up a 5'x9' Lionel train set running around a 6' Christmas tree, completely rearranging our living room furniture in the process. For me, that began a fascination with trains resulting in 27 of my photos and two fictional stories being published in national magazines & catalogs. As the three of us began to put 2 and 2 together regarding Santa, Dad built that same model layout lowering out of a wall of the knotty pine club basement he built.
Christmas was special for Dad, but not in the commercialized way. We never had a lot of gaudy lights or decorations, only a wreath on the door and candles in the windows. Dad and Mom wanted to make sure we kept the Christ in Christmas. That sense of simple faith and spirituality has developed in me as I continue to feel even closer to God.
Dad was one of the most gentle men I have ever known. In no way effeminate, he was simply subtle, unpretentious and unassuming. Humility was one of Dad's personality traits. As talented as he was, he was not one to toot his own horn. That is one of his characteristics that I have not inherited very well.
Quite often, the merit of being gentle is not thought of in association with being courageous & brave. One summer day, as my Dad went fishing on the Chesapeake Bay in his father's 17 foot runabout with both my grandfathers, a regatta of large sailboats swiftly passed them. Watching in horror, the sailboat of the owner of The DuPont Corporation blindly plowed over a small rowboat. The occupants, an old man and his granddaughter, were thrown into the deep water. The crew of the yacht did nothing but lamely toss a couple of life rings toward them.
My Dad dove into the water and rescued both of the victims. As he was handing the little girl up to my grandfathers, the old man started to sink under the boat. Dad caught him with his foot under the man's armpit and brought him up to safety. Upon regaining consciousness, the grandfather said that he was going after the little girl, thinking she was going down in the water. The old man never once thanked my Dad or my grandfathers or even acknowledged that his life and that of his granddaughter had been saved. However, his daughter, the mother of the little girl, was verbally profuse in her gratitude when they got to shore.
Dad was generous and full of encouragement, not critical or condemning. Mom had encouraged Dad to do what he loved: art. Although he provided for our family, he was not driven by the almighty dollar. Dad and Mom have both encouraged me to do what I love: writing music and lyrics.
A big part of my lyrics and even some of the music I have written are heavily involved with humor. Some people have drawn comparisons between my father and myself for our humor (or lack thereof). Accused of being corny, that did not stop Dad from telling jokes at the dinner table, often with the punch line followed by his trademark phrase, "Pass the sugar, please". He loved to laugh and had a ready smile at the slightest provocation.
Dad helped me develop an appreciation of music from an early age. Although playing only a few songs on the harmonica, he was always singing and teaching us songs. He and Mom took ballroom dancing lessons and loved to dance. In his later years, as the Alzheimer's progressed, Dad could often be heard singing or humming in a very lighthearted manner and was still a member of the Village Singers choir.
In closing, the following song was written a week prior to his passing:
© 2005 MICK TERRY
All of my best friends and all of my ex-'s,
'cept maybe that tone-deaf one way down in Texas,
kept telling me the same darned thing: "Don't sing".
Maybe at some point I really should listen.
But, what does it matter? Do I even miss them?
But, still there's that familiar ring: "Don't sing".
"Don't sing if the mood ever hits you.
Don't sing, your voice has done quit you.
Don't sing. No one's wanting to hear it.
If you never learn one more thing: 'Don't sing'."
All of my sisters and both of my brothers
and seventeen cousins and even my mother
kept telling me the same darned thing: "Don't sing".
Just when I'm sure that I sound like Bill Medley,
they've all got to tell me that it's pretty deadly,
like winter, not a bit like spring: "Don't sing".
But not my Dad, God bless him.
Having no great voice, he wouldn't let them suppress him.
He wouldn't let it stop a thing: he'd sing.
He often would tell me, "Don't worry.
There're too many folks in way too big a hurry
to have fun with life's simple things: just sing."
Thanks, Dad. I love you.
- Mick Terry
12-27-05 memorial celebration
Five songs were written with Bob Terry in mind:
Looks Like It's Forever
The Big Fade
The Things that I Remember
Don't Sing (Bridge)
Another song used his role as the principle character:
Little Green Men
William Robert (Bob) Terry, Mick Terry's father, passed away (December 23, 2005)
from heartattack & pneumonia after an extended struggle with Alzheimer's Disease.
Survived by his wife Ellen & children David Terry, Michael (Mick) Terry, Nancy Florence Oliver & 5 grandchildren.
A graduate of Maryland Institute College of Art, he made his living as a commercial artist
for the Baltimore News American (News Post) & Baltimore Sun newspapers.
A technical sergeant in the Army Air Corps, he flew 32 missions in WWII as engineer & top turret gunner
on a B-17 bomber ("Buddy Buddy": on which he painted the plane's logo), receiving a Purple Heart.
His watercolor paintings, primarily of wildlife & landscapes merge the schools of realism & impressionism.
A very good, loving & gentle man, he will be missed.
Copyright © 1994-2005 MICK TERRY All rights reserved
[ Reprinted here by permission of the author. ]
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Baltimore Sun informational obituary 12-30-05
Baltimore Sun obituary 12-25-05
Baltimore Sun obituary abstract 12-25-05
Carroll County Times obituary 12-25-05
THE THINGS THAT I REMEMBER
LOOKS LIKE IT'S FOREVER
LITTLE GREEN MEN
THE BIG FADE
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