(RIP) Terry Diveley, Lee HS 1963

By Gere Gaige

How he changed my life….

Terry was a cross country runner at LHS, while I was a swimmer at MHS.  We did not know each other… that is, we knew “of” each other because we were athletes at competing high schools, but we did not know each other.  We both went to Texas Tech University, becoming Red Raider student-athletes for our respective sports, and happened to meet in the food line during the first week of classes.  Seeing a familiar face, we spoke and the topic of room-mates came up as both of us had been assigned random upperclassmen.

 He did not like his, and I sure did not like mine.  We resolved to dump them and move in together.  A day later we were setup at the corridor’s end room, second floor, Carpenter Hall-south in Lubbock, Texas.  And there we lived for three-plus years as we each worked through the formative years of advanced education.  

What I learned from observing Terry and sharing those years with him changed my life.  His focus, discipline, high personal standards and determination to achieve made me a better man.  In that first year, as he ran cross country and studied business, and I pursued swimming and a pre-med degree in chemistry, we quickly established a bond of respect and separated ourselves from the more pedestrian population in the dorm, which we considered inferior.  

For each school year, we lived together struggling with the issues of university life – exhausting workouts, grades, distractions of attractive women – while we enjoyed occasional weekend 2-hour open window trips home in his 1950’s Ford Fairlane.  You know the old 4-60 air conditioner (referring to windows down and driving speed.)  The only offensive thing Terry ever did was move out on me in our senior year to marry his first wife.  I could not believe she was a better roommate than me.  (Well,…. maybe I could.)  I was Best Man at his wedding.

Terry did not have a sparkling, outgoing personality.  He was quiet, serious and, in fact, you’d think rather dark and dower.  But it was only because he was independent, inward looking, very strong and concerned about his place in the world as a worthwhile human being.  He was not concerned about what others thought of him, only that he was meeting his responsibilities and doing the right thing.  By the standards of those days he would be described as a “straight arrow”, and I came to love him, for a lot of reasons but partly because he made me more “straight”.   

Living with Terry for those years made me a stronger and more self-confident man.  I gained habits and a view on life and people that changed my future.  On graduation, we both entered the military as second lieutenants…. Terry in the Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps as he pursued a law degree, and me in U.S. Air Force pilot training towards a five-year career as a fighter jet instructor pilot.  We kept loose track of each other through those service commitments, finishing at war’s end.  Terry joined the staff of the City Attorney in Odessa, Texas and I began a career as a real estate appraiser in Houston.  

After the birth of his daughter, life turned unkind to Terry.  He was diagnosed with serious cancer, initially judged as terminal.  He was referred to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Hospital in Houston, and began making trips there for treatment.  For each of those trips, we hosted Terry and his family at our home in Houston.  The trips were more frequent at first, and always bitter-sweet.  Sweet because of the chance visit and stay close, bitter because each one involved radiation and chemo treatments that tested Terry’s physical body to the the limits.  

As the years went by, and the doctors worked their magic, the visits became less frequent.  More about monitoring and much more pleasant until they stopped entirely.  Those miracle-workers at M.D. Andersen Cancer Center had given Terry back a normal life, and for a much longer term.  And we went back to “loose contacts” as he turned fully to his legal career and a move from Odessa to the City Attorney’s office in Fort Worth, Texas.  In all of this, the original two young people grew in different directions and Terry was divorced.  That threw him even more intensely into his legal work, where he reached the level of Assistant City Attorney for Fort Worth.  

That focus at work did not keep him from noticing at least one of the more attractive staff in the office and he and Ann Long were soon married after a mutually enjoyable courtship.  Terry remained very much in love for the rest of his life.  That love changed him; softer and more sociable.  He did things she liked to do, even attending church events.  Terry was offered several times the opportunity to compete for City Attorney, but always declined as he just could not tolerate politics.  He preferred the staff support position to the back-slapping and double-dealing of city politics.  

They worked together in the Fort Worth Attorney’s office until retirement, and for them that was idyllic.  They walked together, made country drives, and generally paid attention to each other, much to the delight of both.  A grandson was also presented by his daughter Sharyl who lived nearby.  

I learned all this in the catch-up visits that occurred – as I returned to the U.S. after 15 years working in Russia’s transforming real estate market.  Terry was one of my first recontacts, and all visits were by phone and E-mail.  I was in homes we acquired in the Blue Ridge mountains of South Carolina and the Ozarks of Arkansas while he was solidly in Fort Worth.  We enjoyed a year or so of regular exchanges while he related his joy with the females in his life, Ann, Sharyl and his sister Marsha who also lived nearby.  Terry was able to share the pride of being a grandfather with Sharyl and Ann, until Ann was diagnosed with cancer.  

Serious cancer that took her in a year.  A very hard year for Terry, fighting the cancer with Ann, driving her back and forth to M.D. Anderson in Houston, watching her suffer with the effects of the treatments and, he told me later, wishing it were him and not her.  When she died Terry was devastated.  

He withdrew totally from life.  Stayed home, participated in nothing and began planning to join Ann if  he could.  I flew to Dallas to cheer Terry and help his daughter bring him back, to no avail.  Over a year or so he put all his affairs in order, prepared instructions for Ann on all details and, with grim determination, resolved to be ready to join Ann when the time came.  He did nothing to hasten that time, but he did nothing to extend it either.  He died peacefully at home and joined his Ann, at rest in love.                 

All his instructions were followed by his loving daughter Sharyl.  The honor guard and folded flag recognizing his committed service to his country, the one modest flower arrangement, and the selected hymns and passages to be included in the service.  His remains were cremated and placed next to Ann’s in their church reverent garden, a project Terry had dedicated himself to when Ann’s urn was placed there.   

I am angry about his death.  It denied us the chance to visit and share the memories that the rest of us are able to share and enjoy today.  That pleasure was something I looked forward to with a man as important in my life as anyone.  A man with whom I had shared so much in such important years of our lives.   But that is a selfish thought.  Terry, as he always did, placed himself where he wants to be, a place with Ann where he knew he needed to be.  

As much as I’ve expressed that knowing Terry improved me, he claimed I had as much positive influence on him.  I doubt it.  Rest in peace and love, Terry.  I miss you. 

17 thoughts on “(RIP) Terry Diveley, Lee HS 1963

  1. Admin March 16, 2020 / 4:44 am

    W Godwin, The Rev Buck Necked

    Wonderful

  2. Admin March 16, 2020 / 4:44 am

    Shirley Dorff Sloan

    Gere, that was a wonderful tribute to Terry. Terry and I were good friends for several years; he was my escort at the Rebelee court. I agree, he was an extraordinary person and I was sad to learn of his passing.

  3. Admin March 16, 2020 / 4:45 am

    Karen Kimball Jones

    Beautiful Gere! I do hope Terry’s daughter Sharyl sees this! What a tribute to Terry and to your friendship with him!

  4. Admin March 16, 2020 / 4:45 am

    Don Patteson

    Gere,

    Thank you for sharing this important story. This a great example of what drives John to motivate us all to add stories to What’s in the Water. God bless you for helping us know Terry and you better,

    Don

  5. Admin March 16, 2020 / 4:46 am

    Harry Miller

    Powerful story!

  6. Admin March 16, 2020 / 4:46 am

    John McElligott

    Great job Gere. I knew you would make us all shed a tear. I remember when we were planning a trip down to try a perk Terry up. I was never sure why you wanted me to go. Now I know, and wish I could have met Terry. God Bless you Rocket Man.

    John

  7. Admin March 16, 2020 / 4:47 am

    Lynne Ray

    Gere, what a sweet, thoughtful tribute to our friend, Terry. Very well done. Thank you, Gere, for sharing your memories with us. Rest In Peace, Terry. We all miss you.

  8. Admin March 16, 2020 / 4:47 am

    Bob Ittner

    Gere, very kind story and you certainly were a good friend. I didn’t know Terry but I remember that he was a good runner and that Midland had a tremendous track coach Edwin Nixon. Thanks for taking the time to share and best to you. Bob

  9. Admin March 16, 2020 / 4:48 am

    Suzi Northcutt Griffith

    That was such a beautiful tribute Gere. And I loved hearing about his life after I last saw him. He and his first wife lived in the same complex in Lubbock that I lived in with my young son in 1971, the year my husband spent in Vietnam. I think he was in law school. Anyway, we did have many occasions to visit. I never knew he had been in Fort Worth until saw his obit in the newspaper. We have lived in the Ft. Worth area for thirty years and I do so regret not knowing.

  10. Admin March 16, 2020 / 4:49 am

    Gere Gaige

    Thank you, Suzi….. The world is small – and we end up with all those close connections…. but it is sometimes not small enough, because many of them we just do not know about.

    As you can tell, Terry meant a lot to me, and I am sure my life would be a lot different if we had not known each other the way we did over those 3+ critical years of school. We were lucky to stay at least somewhat in touch through two military service commitments (five years) and then to be at least intermittently together for the years he had treatment in Houston. Terry was a special man, and like most things very special, not easily accessible.

    Fort Worth meant a lot to him and to Anne…. although he never lived there. He commuted from Dallas every day of his more than 25 year career in the City Attorney’s office. The biggest part of that was that Sharon (first wife) and Sheryl (daughter) lived in Dallas. Now that’s a father’s loyalty and love.

    Good to hear from you Suzi…. Bill German and I still read what you wrote in my CATOICO edition from time to time!

    GG

  11. Admin March 16, 2020 / 4:49 am

    W Godwin, The Rev Buck Necked

    Terry was a great guy. He was the Chaplain of the Student Council at Lee, Back in the day we could pray in school. Bill Bueck was the President. We had assemble one day our senior year, Bill led the pledge, and then ask Terry to pray. All the seniors were in the front rows, Terry stated to pray with, ” our dear Heavenly Father ” YESSSSSSS was heard very loud from the from row, Jack Champion did it. The entire student body was laughing so hard for about five minutes, Mr Hinds the principle was madder than mad. Jacks classmates on the from row could not stop laughing. Jack got kicked out for three days, with a few others. a good time was had by all at the Monahans, Tx Sandhills, Jack is no longer with us, but everytime I think of him I laugh and say a BIG. YESSSSSS in his honor, RIP Jack

  12. Admin March 16, 2020 / 4:50 am

    Dennis “Wemus” Grubb

    A classic story……….what a hoot.

  13. Admin March 16, 2020 / 4:51 am

    Carole Bearden

    I didn’t know Terry was gone. He was a great guy.

  14. Admin March 16, 2020 / 4:51 am

    Linda Wofford

    I remember sweet Terry very well. He truly was an outstanding person. I never heard an unkind word spoken about him. So beautifully written, Gere. Thank you for your kind words and sweet memories.

  15. Sharyl Diveley Terhall June 18, 2020 / 7:11 pm

    Thank you, Gere for your wonderful tribute to my dad. I know you meant a lot to him. Daddy was one of a kind and not a day passes that I don’t miss him and his reassuring presence. He was hard to know, but SO wonderful to know. Ann knew that. It’s been a blessing to see how many people thought kindly of him and I wish he’d thought as much of himself. Thank you for understanding this. I love him so much and can only hope to see him again someday. Thank you for all of your support over the years. Much love to you and yours. Sharyl Diveley Terhall

  16. John McElligott June 19, 2020 / 11:44 am

    Sharyl I did not know your dad well but Gere and I are best friends since MHS days. Gere had told me a lot about your father and his life story up till the very end. As matter of fact Gere and I were planning a trip to see him just when we heard he had passed away. I wish we had done the trip much sooner. Anyway I am glad you joined the blog. John McElligott

  17. Sharyl Terhall February 21, 2021 / 4:50 am

    Thank you. It’s been lovely reading it.

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