As teenagers, we all had long hair and loved to do French braids on the bus. So, in memory of my sweet friend, Rachel Terry, who left us one year ago, I decided to donate 10 inches of hair to charity. It feels insufficient, but I would like to celebrate her life and my time with her.
Rachel was a special friend during the years I taught with her at Southside. She was so creative, kind, and loving. She always put others before herself. She made me a better teacher. I am a better person for having known her. I will never forget the impact she had on my life. I love you, Rachel!
Love, Kish Jefferson
Rachel and I became friends in our second year of college at Campbell University. She was our suitemate, but quickly became a very close friend. We would spend many days and nights a Campbell dreaming of what our lives would be like after we graduated. We would talk about our “one-day, yet not-yet-met” husbands and even how we would dress our kids—hers in overalls, of course J Then we would talk about the fun we would have when we would visit each other’s families. We went on many walks at Campbell planning our futures. I treasure these memories. We both went on to live our dreams and did indeed thoroughly enjoy visits with each other’s families! We always looked forward to our families going to the pumpkin patch together (even when our kids outgrew it!) in the fall and seeing each other at the beach in the summers. Rachel was a strong, independent person who always showed the love of God to others. I remember one night in college, we went with a church group to Raleigh and met a homeless woman on the steps of the capitol building—Rachel shared the love of Jesus with that woman that night and gave her a bookmark that had John 3:16 on it, but instead of “the world” it had Rachel’s name. Rachel told that woman to put her own name where “Rachel” was in the verse. Rachel might just see that woman again in heaven one day!
Rachel was always so creative! Teaching was definitely her calling, and she excelled in every aspect of it! I was always amazed at the teaching projects she would do in college—so much detail and creativity! I even called her during her last year with help for my kids’ school projects because I knew she would have awesome ideas. And she truly showed a genuine love for the kids she taught.
Although we lived 4 hours apart, Rachel and I kept close. We would usually talk several times a week, and I always looked forward to hearing “Hey—what are you doing?” when I would pick up the phone. We often said how nice it would be if we lived closer so we could continue our walks like we used to in college. But she was right where she needed to be–she was able to live close to family and raise her own precious family close to loved ones. There are many more stories I could tell of how Rachel touched not only my life, but others as well. I miss her dearly, but know I will see her again one day.
To some, Rachel was known as “Mrs. Terry,” beloved teacher. She had an influence on the hundreds of students she taught over the years. She treated each and every child as she did her own- with love and respect. Her students truly loved her because they knew she loved them.
To others, she was “Rachel,” mother, wife, daughter, and friend. Those people got to see not only the loving and caring side of her, but also her ability to live in the moment and her sense of humor. She could find the silver lining and humor in most any situation.
For me, Rachel was a faithful friend. Anything I said to her, I knew would not be repeated. I could depend on her to do anything I asked of her. I know she felt the same about me. She was a sister to me. We often laughed together and sometimes cried together.
Throughout her illness, she never lost her trust in God. She trusted him to heal her until the end. She then put her faith in the fact her family and friends would all be okay and she would see them all again some day.
She was the most selfless person I have ever known- always putting the needs of others before her own.
Her legacy continues to live the the hearts of the hundreds of lives she touched during her time here on Earth.
We miss you so much, seeing your smiling face. Always doing for others and your family. She loved the Lord and her family, always doing so much for the children. She was a Godsend as a teacher so much over the years. We all know she is in a better place looking down on all of us from heaven but we know she has no more pain and is free from this old world.
Aunt Judy and Uncle Donald
I first met Rachel Terry when she taught my son Todd Tate back in 2003 in kindergarten. My first impression of her when she was a very beautiful sweet loving and caring young lady. Her first impression of us was nervous because she said my son was her first diabetic child and she was very nervous. I told her no need to be nervous because my dad and I had her back we told her we were just a phone call away. We left in the next time we saw her was the first day of school when we dropped Todd off about an hour later we were getting a phone call saying they needed our help because his sugar was low they thought but couldn’t figure out how to use the machine.
So I came back and by the time I got there they had checked his sugar because there was an EMT there. When I walked in Rachel was very calm which was good for all the kids especially my son because if he’d seen her panic he would have panicked. After getting that scare out of the way the rest of the school year was really good Todd kept in touch to my knowledge with Rachel through his years at Southside.
Then in 2009 Rachel taught my daughter Aaliyah and that is the next time that we saw her since my son had graduated from Southside. I made sure to bring him so that they could catch up she was so delighted to see him as was he. I was so glad that my daughter got to be taught by her just like my son, she is a great teacher and friend ,we miss her every day.
After my daughter got out of her kindergarten class she finished up her years at Southside and she would see Rachel right before her passing the next time we saw her would be on the soccer field. It was a joy to see you there watching her kids play. I know today she is still watching over all her students and especially her husband and kids. She is greatly missed we love her till we meet again
Rachel was my co-worker, but she was more than that – she was my friend; she was family. The Southside kindergarten team had always been known to get along well and through sharing our personal lives and praying for one another this bond grew over the years. During Rachel’s illness, an event happened in which the kindergarten team felt was extremely unkind to Rachel. Because of her co- worker’s response to this event, Rachel laughingly said that we were a very loving, light-hearted group to others unless you made the mistake of “messing” with one of the kindergarten team. Thus our nickname the Kindergarten Mafia was born. It was a defining moment of the bond we shared that had been birthed by years of love and friendship.
Rachel’s faith was always evidence by the kindness she showed to others. One Mother’s Day, I was going through an extremely tough time. My door bell rang and there stood Cooper and Mallory with a gift bag. She had bought me a Willow Oak statue of “brothers” since I have two sons. I went running out to the van to thank her for her kindness. Of course, she made light of her kind gesture as that was just the humble nature of Rachel. I don’t know if she ever knew how much that meant to me.
Someone who loved children and made teaching her life
A devoted, loving mother and a wonderful wife
Someone that lived the way each of us should
A mirror of Jesus and so kind and good
Someone who touched each of us that she knew
So easy to work with and be a friend to
Someone who showed us how we should live
Someone who gave all she had to give
Someone who hoped and pushed every day
Despite weakening trials that stood in her way
She had an assignment, one most special task
It was so important and also her last
She had already shown us how we should live
But, this task would be the last present she’d give
She left us a legacy of how we should die
How to prepare for our home in the sky
She closed her eyes here in complete peace and rest
Transported by angels, she has Heaven’s best
But, for all who knew her, we will always recall
How to live and to die in the best way of all
By: Sandie Parker (friend and colleague from Southside Elementary)
August 2, 2016
We can never forget the night she was born – it was one of the biggest snows we had ever had on 1/5/1977. We got a beautiful little girl who always had a big ‘ole smile. That night the moon shown bright as day. As she grew from a baby to a toddler she and Lee would compete running, swinging, swimming – even chicken tag about the same time. Still their was a big ‘ole smile.!! As she graduated from college and became a teacher she showed so many kids how to be better kids – again always she had that big ‘ole smile. Then she became a mother herself and that smile grew even bigger. We will and have surely missed this beautiful little girl, now an adult….But when the sunshine is so bright outside – their she is that great big ‘ole smile. Always.
Aunt Mary and Uncle Roger (Burdette)
Every once in a while you meet someone who truly lights up a room; someone who exudes Christ’s love in their countenance and who instantly makes you feel welcomed and at ease. For me, Rachel was that person at Southside Elementary. She always had a smile for me and a kind word. She checked on me all throughout my student teaching and my first year as a teacher in 2008-2009 and she never failed to brighten my day. When I moved on to Kentuck Elementary, she still provided that support for me and I always knew she was in my corner and there if I needed her. I watched her handle being a wife, mother, and teacher with a grace that few people possess. I always looked forward to seeing how she would dress Mallory once she came along. Whether it was a PTO meeting or a Sunday at church she always looked beautiful just like her mama. In fact, just last Sunday my own daughter wore one of Mallory’s old dresses and I would like to think Rachel smiled at me from heaven.
When Rachel became ill, I watched her faith remain strong despite the statistics and the diagnosis surrounding her. She leaned on the Lord and never backed down from life no matter how badly she must have felt. She still had a smile and a kind word for all she met. She still taught young students. She traveled. She went to church. She lived! In the midst of facing her own physical trials, she still reached out to me when my family began looking for a new home church. She checked on my kids when they were sick and she still prayed for me even in her final months on this earth. While it’s a struggle for me to understand how and why such a beautiful soul was taken to heaven so early in their life, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that heaven is a richer place because she is there. She left a legacy behind in the lives of her children, other family members, students, and friends that will never fade. She’s still an example and a hero to me for the life that she lived, and she always will be.
One year ago today I did not know that I would be going within 24hrs to pick up my good friend to take her home as was her last wish. I did not get to know Rachel Terry very well until she became ill. This is something I regret. Rachel was not only beautiful on the outside she was even more beautiful inside! Rachel was such an inspiration to me, and continues to be, as she handled her illness like a champ. Always had a smile on her face, never complained or asked why me. She just accepted it was God’s will. I will always remember Rachel for her smile, her laughter, her zest for life, and most of all her love for her family. I was honored to bring Rachel home for her final moments that day. I will cherish the hours on the ambulance with Rachel and Jennifer Statzer bringing her home as was her wish. Rachel continues to inspire me today. She touched so many lives and she touched my heart. I will never forget Rachel. She holds a special place within me. Fly high sweet angel! 😇😇😇
What can I say about Rachel that we don’t already know? There are many things I loved about Rachel. When Charles asked me if I wanted to ride with him to get an engagement ring for Rachel, I knew he found someone wonderful, and sure enough he did. Rachel always made me feel like family and two occasions I will always cherish are the kids birthdays and Christmas time.I always enjoyed helping Rachel decorate the house for the kids birthdays, and when Christmas time came I enjoyed the couple times of helping her and the kids make Christmas cookies, and spending time with the family. These are just a couple of things that I will always love and remember. Lord knows I could go on and on but the one thing I loved the most about Rachel was that big beautiful smile she had – her smile could brighten any room she walked in.