With love to our big brother: Sisters honor Terry Wilsey

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Helping. Passion. Commitment. These are characteristics of our brother, Terry Wilsey, that we have seen and experienced our entire lives. Terry was always our “big brother.” Sadly, Terry left this earth much too early on Dec. 19, 2020. We are sure that he was amid many commitments and had a mind full of ideas for the next way to show help, passion, and commitment. We want to tell you a little bit about some things that only his two sisters would know or remember. When he was between 6 and 10, there were two widows and an elderly couple in a neighborhood with many children. Terry would befriend these elderly people and on May Day, he would take them flowers and May baskets. Terry was the only child in the neighborhood that Mrs. W. liked. The rest of us needed to make less noise and not get so close to her house.

At both Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane and the University of Washington, Terry was in the marching bands. It’s quite a feat to play a large French horn, march to synchronized dance steps and not make a mistake. He did it. He had leadership roles in Junior Achievement and was an Eagle Scout. His college days included campus and fraternity activities. He received a Bachelor of Science with a major in economics from the University of Washington. He was always involved in something to better the world he believed in.

The Wilsey family with a young Terry in the middle.

Among our Spokane friends, he is remembered today for his signature French onion soup and egg nog from “scratch.” This treat always contributed to the New Year’s Eve celebration. Speaking of “scratch” cooking, a little bit of this and a little bit of that and voila a gourmet dish or meal. Many conversations included his creation of recipes.

Terry was born on Aug. 18, 1944, at Ft. Devens, the US Army base in Massachusetts. He was born a few days just before our dad went overseas for WW II. At the time, he was born with a serious heart problem. When the Red Cross called our father back, his parents were told by U.S. Army doctors that Terry would only live between 3 and 6 years. At age 3, Terry was one of the first 100 children to receive heart surgery through the Mayo Clinic hospital. Fortunately, he lived until 76. He made many contributions; some were only known by one or two, and others were more obvious for his communities.

Terry “came out” to our parents in January 1973. This was an extremely challenging time for his relationship with his parents, particularly his father. Healing in their relationship was assisted by Walter Herron, M.D. Our dad was also a physician and I still have strong memories of them sitting at the kitchen doing their “doctor talk.”

When Terry and Walt moved to Las Vegas, it is no surprise that Terry became an ombudsmen for nursing homes in Nevada. Walt and Terry were together for over 35 years and married after Washington State changed the marriage laws. The service was on Terry’s birthday and the date that he and Walt first met, August 18th. Close friends joined in the celebration in Sharon’s backyard in Bellingham. Sharon and I were his bridesmaids.

I am sure that many reading this are familiar with many of Terry’s contributions to the LGBTQ community where he lived out his passion, commitment and helping nature. Politics and Sunday morning news programs were priorities. He was a man of facts, details, and information. I never had a question for him that he could not answer. With his encyclopedic mind, I would tell him he should be on the Jeopardy TV show.

The last 2.5 years of his life were wonderful with Wally Wallace. Sadly, Wally left us on Oct. 4, 2020. I will always be grateful for the love Wally gave to Terry. He would welcome Sharon and me as his “sisters.” Thanks, Wally.

The Candle Burns by Hafiz-14th century Persian poet The Candle burns down. We melt a little each day. The candle burns down. And it may wonder at times, it may wonder. What will become of me? What will happen to my precious flame? O, so much brighter, my dear, you will become so much brighter.

The Tender Mouth of the Earth by Hafiz What will the burial of my body be? The pouring of a sacred cup of wine into the earth’s tender mouth and making my dear sweet lover laugh one more time. What is the passing of a body? The glorious lifting of the spirit into the sacred arms of the Sky, and making existence smile, one more time, one more time.

Mahatma Ghandi had two quotes that exemplify Terry. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” And, “Be the change you want to see.”

Thank you, Terry.

With love to our big brother, Clarice Wilsey, Eugene, Ore. Sharon Belk-Krebs, Bellingham, Wash.