The Terry Foundation

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Mr. Terry’s 100th Birthday

By: Ed Cotham, Jr.

November 27, 2016 was the 100th anniversary of Howard Terry’s birth. Although Mr. Terry did not live quite long enough to celebrate that anniversary he was well aware of the many changes that had taken place during his lifetime. After all, when he was born in the small town of Cameron in 1916 there was not a single radio station in the state (that came along in 1920). There was also not a single commercial airline (that came along in 1926).

The first television station in Texas started broadcasting in 1948 when Mr. Terry was 32 years old and just beginning his legendary business career. Indeed, Mr. Terry witnessed some of the most interesting and challenging times in history. Woodrow Wilson was President when he was born and there were still living veterans of the Civil War in and around his community. He lived through two world wars (fighting in the second) as well as numerous important conflicts in Asia and the Middle East. The Terry family was hit hard by the Great Depression of the 1930s, and he never forgot the lessons of dealing with poverty and challenging economic conditions. Near the end of his life, technology changed in ways that he could not fully understand, and he was content to have others operate computers and cell phones while he stuck to making notes on the familiar pad and pencil that he always carried with him.

One piece of technology that Mr. Terry did find particularly useful was the television. The advances in picture quality and the increases in television content made it possible to find a sporting event to watch almost any time you turned it on. This, as Mr. Terry jokingly remarked to us on several occasions, was the most important progress his life had witnessed.

Although many things changed dramatically during the long course of Mr. Terry’s life, his core values never altered. From an early point in his life, Mr. Terry developed a sense of duty and honor that would be central to his life’s work and its meaning. Whether it was on the football field as a player, in the South Pacific as a Naval Officer, or in the board rooms of his businesses, Mr. Terry believed that it was essential that each individual look for opportunities to help and support those around them. It was not enough just to be thankful for what you had been given; it was about “helping the next guy” to come after you.

As we reflect on the 100thanniversary of Mr. Terry’s birth, we challenge all of our scholars to build on the Terrys’ legacy and make a difference. Who knows what the next 100 years will bring? What we do know is that there will be opportunities for each of us to make the world a better place. It is up to us to follow the Terrys’ example and seize them.

Visit the Terry Digital Annual to see our Terry Scholars in Action.