An important and influential family with an Emporia State family legacy is being recognized this weekend at the ESU basketball game. Paul and Odessa Terry didn’t merely dream that all eight of their children would graduate from college; they expected it. The children didn’t disappoint and, as a result, the Terrys will be honored as a 2020 Hornet Heritage Family by Emporia State University’s Alumni Association on Saturday, Feb. 8, during the Hornets’ home basketball game.
Education was established early as a priority for Paul Terry and his siblings.
Paul’s sister, Joanna Terry Hayes, graduated in 1930 with a BSE from Kansas State Teachers College, which later became ESU. Brother Charles also received his BSE from KSTC.
Another brother, Kenneth, graduated from Tuskegee Flight School at Tuskegee University, Alabama, and became a member of the elite Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American military fighter and bomber pilots who fought during World War II in the U.S. Army Air Forces.
Emporian Paul Terry met his future wife, Odessa Bowser of Great Bend, as students at KSTC. Paul Terry received his Bachelor of Science degree in education in 1938, and Odessa received her BSE in 1939.
“They both went to school to become teachers, but they couldn’t get a job,” said Beverly Terry, the couple’s second-born child. In that earlier era, the Emporia school district did not hire African-American teachers.
Both Joanne and Charles Terry left Emporia to use their teaching degrees in Kansas City.
“They had to go to a black school to teach,” Paul and Odessa Terry’s fourth child, Russell, explained. His parents could have done the same but chose instead to stay in Emporia and raise a family.
Paul Terry’s name already was well-known as an athlete at Emporia High School. Then-basketball coach Alfred Smith tapped Paul to play on the team, and the youngster agreed.
As the first African-American member of the EHS basketball team, Paul Terry routinely had faced racism and segregation issues. Restaurants refused to let him eat with the team. Occasionally, opposing team fans would trip him when he dribbled close to the sidelines, prompting referees to call him for traveling. In some cities, he was not even permitted to play.
According to an Emporia Gazette article after Paul Terry’s death in 2005, during his senior year in 1934, he was not allowed to play in the state tournament, when Emporia High brought home the first-place trophy.
But, Paul Terry persisted and rose above the obstacles he encountered. After graduation, he went on to KSTC, where he played on several all-black intramural teams before receiving his degree.
He enlisted in the Army, served in the European Theater during World War II for two and a half years, and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service.
Instead of the teaching career he had anticipated, he turned instead to the field of business. For more than 50 years, Paul was manager at Baird Dry Cleaners and continued on after ownership changed hands and became Spic ‘N Span Cleaners.
He served on several boards in the Emporia community. After his death, a scholarship was established in his name at Emporia State University, a basketball tournament named in his honor was held for a number of years, and a large portrait of him still hangs in a hall at EHS.
Paul Terry’s high-school experiences also influenced Coach Alfred Smith’s son, Dean Smith, who was a young child during Terry’s time at EHS. Dean Smith became well-known both as a strong proponent of integration and as the legendary coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team.
In his autobiography, “A Coach’s Life: My 40 Years in College Basketball,” Dean Smith cited Paul Terry for his role in integrating high school sports in Kansas.
Still, none of the barriers Terry encountered deterred him or diminished his thirst for education. At his death, he was only about six credit hours away from a master’s degree, youngest daughter Nadine Terry said.
And surely he was gratified that all of his children had achieved his and Odessa’s goal for them: graduate from college.
Five of the Terry children earned at least one degree from Emporia State while the remaining three took a different route, earning basketball scholarships to Hutchinson Junior College before going on to NCAA DI universities to gain their degrees.
First-born Norman Terry received a bachelor’s degree in education in 1968 from Kansas State Teachers College. Norman, who died in February 2019, received a master’s plus degree in art education from Wichita State University and taught for 36 years in Wichita public schools. He never missed a day of work, received the “Teacher of the Year Award” and retired in 2004. He then became an art consultant for the City of Wichita.
Beverly Terry, the couple’s second child, received a bachelor of arts in psychology and sociology from KSTC, also in 1968. As a social worker, she worked with severely and profoundly mentally disabled patients at the Kansas Neurological Institute in Topeka before moving to California, where she was an executive recruiter for a placement agency in Orange County-Newport Beach. Beverly returned to Emporia after retiring.
A cousin, Marilyn Terry, also attended KSTC during the 1960s.
Barbara Terry-Campbell, the Terrys’ third child, received her bachelor’s degree in education from KSTC in 1969. She later earned a master’s in human development and family life and a doctorate in psychology from the University of Kansas in Lawrence. She taught for five years and is assistant research professor at Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, operated by the University of Kansas in Kansas City, where she has worked for 40 years developing professional training for early childhood educators and paraprofessionals and creating strategies for early language and literacy skills, peer tutoring strategies for pre-school and early elementary students and academic intervention strategies and program monitoring.
Fourth-born Russell Terry earned a bachelor’s degree in business in 1971 and a master’s in counselor education in 1973 from KSTC. He was a counselor and a paraprofessional in Topeka schools and returned to Emporia after retirement.
The three Terry children next in order — Martin, John and Charles — all received basketball scholarships at Hutchinson Junior College and, after receiving their associate’s degrees, went on to NCAA Division I schools to continue their educations.
Martin received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Arkansas and is an antique dealer in Arkansas.
John, who now restores cars in California, received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California-Berkeley.
Charles received his bachelor’s in education from the University of Arkansas and a master’s in education from Drury College in Springfield, Missouri. The couple’s fifth son also fulfilled Paul Terry’s wish for his own home-grown basketball squad, which the elder Terry nicknamed the “Terry Dream Team.” He taught and coached at several high schools and universities before his death on Jan. 4, 2020, at the age of 65.
Emporian Nadine Terry received a bachelor of science in sociology from ESU in 1984. She has worked 34 years for TFI Family Services and currently is ombudsman at Mainstream Non-Profit Solutions, a division of TFI. She serves all five entities under the TFI umbrella.
“To tell you the truth, I wanted to stay by my parents,” she said. “I never thought of going anywhere else.”
Beverly Terry expressed gratitude not only to ESU for providing a solid educational foundation but also to the Jones Foundation for the scholarships that helped the family afford to send the first few siblings to KSTC. Financing college educations for eight children had been challenging but became much easier by the time it was Nadine’s turn.
The educations the Terry children received at ESU, along with opportunities for collegiate social and entertainment experiences, have proven useful in their careers and in their personal lives.
“It’s a good school; I would tell (prospective students) that,” said Nadine Terry, who participated in gospel choir and intramural basketball at ESU. “We’ve all done well in our careers, and the town is very nice.”
“And, we’ve made lifelong friends from all over (the world),” Beverly Terry added.
Family members have stayed involved supporting ESU activities and events through the years. Paul Terry was a member of the ESU Endowment Association, a panelist for the Black Emporia History presentation held by ESU and an honorary member of the Alpha Kappa Delta International Sociology Honor Society. He purchased a brick on behalf of the Terry Family for the Sauder Alumni Center.
Barbara Terry-Campbell has been a keynote speaker for ESU’s Black Observance Week and for the Dr. Martin Luther King Day observance, and served three years on the Alumni Association’s board of directors. She also purchased a brick for the Sauder Alumni Center.
Nadine Terry performed as a singer for an MLK celebration, as speaker for the ESU Minority Graduation event and as keynote speaker for the MLK observance in 2006, and performed at ESU’s Historical Monologue of the Black Woman. She also graduated from Leadership Kansas and Leadership Emporia.
Russell Terry participated in the MLK observance in 2006.
All five Terry alumni participate in Emporia Connection, an official alumni chapter focused on strengthening the ties between the university and both its African-American alumni and current and prospective ESU students.
Each year, the organization awards Emporia Connection Legacy Scholarships to qualified students. It is a means to offer youths a path to college degrees and to open the door to the same opportunities that alumni gained during their time at Emporia State.
The memory of her parents’ insistence on earning those college degrees brought a smile to Nadine Terry’s face, as she contrasted her mother’s gentle nudging to her father’s decidedly patriarchal approach.
“My father always said, ‘If your last name is Terry, you are going to go to college,’” she said, lowering her voice an octave to emulate his firm tone of voice. “Those were his words. ... He just wanted better for his kids.”
Recognition + Celebration
The Emporia State Alumni Association will recognize the Terrys as a Hornet Heritage Family on Saturday, Feb. 8, at White Auditorium during the halftime of the Hornet men’s basketball game, which starts at 5 p.m. On the same day, the anniversary of the 2010 Lady Hornets National Championship will be recognized during the halftime of the women’s basketball game, which tips off at 3 p.m. This events are open to the public.