July 17, 2014
Prepared by Warren Pritchard, other friends, loved ones :
Terry Nichols, one of Turkey 1’s best, died at the age of 74 in a hospice on July 17, 2014, near his home of St. Paul, Arkansas. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer three months prior to his death.
My wife, Judith and I spent a long weekend about a month ago with Terry and his wife, Linda, and Nina Selz, another Turkey 1, who bought a house from Terry and Linda, retired to St. Paul and was subsequently appointed to serve as the mayor of this small community.
Terry was raised in a very religious family and was planning to enter the ministry after college, but a year abroad in the Scandanavian Seminar in Denmark, and working in a church during his senior year convinced him this was not the path he wanted for his life. The Peace Corps was a legitimate way for him to escape going to seminary, so he joined the volunteers who became the first Peace Corps group to Turkey.
In his second year, after teaching in Çorum the first year, Terry was selected to be a volunteer leader, given a Jeep, and assigned to travel around visiting the volunteer teachers in the section of Anadolu that included Adana and Kilis. Terry spent a third year in Turkey working for Robert College, visiting Anatolian lises and recruiting students to apply to the college.
Terry won a scholarship to the University of Chicago and earned a PhD in sociology. His focus was in the area of family planning, and he was involved in early use of computers in social science research. He was in Chicago during the anti-war years and the 1968 Democratic Convention and was greatly influenced by witnessing the social upheaval of that time. After Chicago, Terry was hired to teach at the University of Wisconsin/Green Bay. It was there that he met and married Linda Grom and where their son Tannon was born.
By the late 1970’s Terry was ready to make a change in career and location. He had discovered the area of Northwest Arkansas in the Ozark Mountains. He initially went into real estate in the tiny town of St. Paul, renovating and selling and renting houses. Along the way Terry developed some very strong skills—electrical, plumbing, residential framing and finish carpentry, and not least, he became a good diesel mechanic.
After a time, Terry decided he wanted to learn more pure science than he had gotten earlier at UWGB where the emphasis was on more general environmentalism, very big there at the time. So he got a BS in civil engineering at the University of Arkansas and worked for several years in that field.
We arrived at Terry’s house, at the end of a tree-lined driveway alongside a creek, a very quiet and comfortable spot. We spent the entire weekend reminiscing, eating good food and enjoying our friendship with Terry and Linda, a special relationship with Tannon and other mutual friends.
Terry was just recovering from a major seizure, and a week of unconsciousness brought on in reaction to chemotherapy. Treatment was no longer available to him. However, he was not distraught. He told me that the experience–the loss of a week–made him feel that nothing mattered, that achievements, competence and skills are of little matter. We agreed that failures and shortcomings are of little matter as well.
Terry reviewed his life experiences. He placed a high value on the freedom to do something new and different almost every day and on the life he and Linda made together. He had no regrets and was ready for the end of his life.
I think of Terry as our one Folk guitarist, the first of a large number; two in T-2, a couple in T-4 and a whole bunch by T-8, many 12- string. Rest in Peace Terry. Thanks for keeping us singing. — Mike Jewell