UHC community agrees: Terry Fear helped forge an extended family in the congregation

On the first Shabbat following Terry Fear’s passing — one week after Terry had lit candles to begin the Temple’s virtual service — UHC members shared remembrances of their friend and colleague, who died suddenly Dec. 13 at age 66.

Among her many contributions to the congregation and community, Terry served as UHC vice president and secretary, led the Temple’s restoration efforts, coordinated special events in the sanctuary, served on the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center board and worked widely for social justice.

Most satisfying of all for Terry, friends agreed, were her efforts to introduce people she admired and appreciated to each other, to foster knowledge, understanding and personal growth.

This is the second of two articles chronicling memorial sessions in Terry’s honor.

Part One: Terry Fear brought people together — this time, to honor her memory

Herschel Chait, UHC board

One of the things that struck me most about Terry was her willingness to put in the actual day-to-day work that needed to get done for our congregation — and also giving of herself in a very immediate kind of way.

I’m thinking about the work she’s done with the Sommerses [longtime members Walter Sommers and his late wife Louise, who died Nov. 30 at age 95]. She spent a lot of time with them, assisting them, providing guidance for them, and for others in the congregation who were ill.

I also want to point out, even though she wasn’t born Jewish, [Terry displayed a remarkable] attachment to Judaism. She was committed to the congregation and committed to Judaism.

Sister Paula Damiano, Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods

[Terry] and I would commiserate about the lack of young people in our churches. This was a real concern of hers, that our congregations weren’t vibrant and growing. And we would say, “All in God’s time, all in God’s time.”

I just keep thinking her spirit has to have an effect on us — on United Hebrew Congregation, on the Sisters of Providence, on all the people she touched. And I believe that from [Terry’s influence] we will see some good things result in other persons being drawn to the faith of Judaism and in our case, the faith of Catholicism.

[Recalling Louise Sommers] Her peaceful countenance is something I will never forget. I believe that countenance comes from deep faith.

Betsy Frank, UHC president

When [Louise] couldn’t remember most of anything else, she remembered the prayers. Terry would sit with her and sing the prayers. She knew the prayers almost to her dying day.

Nancy Sommers

On the last Shabbat my mother was alive, Terry was holding my mother’s hand and singing the Shabbat songs, and there was a recognition of the songs at the end of my mother’s life. Terry wanted her to leave the earth hearing the Hebrew songs and prayers she knew my mother loved.

Everybody who knew Terry knew my parents. She wanted all her worlds to come together.

Everybody who knew Terry knew my parents. She brought Sister Paula, Sister Barbara [Battista], she brought [others] to meet my parents. She wanted all her worlds to come together.

She wanted my parents to meet her people, her friends, and she wanted her friends to meet my parents. Terry was this person who could keep making connections among people and find reasons where people needed to know each other.

Riem Rostom, Inter-Faith Council of the Wabash Valley

Look at all the different denominations and faiths coming here to remember her. I feel she’s smiling at us right now.

Sister Barbara Battista, SPSMW

In my work organizing justice efforts, I could always count on Terry. She would figure out a way to make it happen. She would take on a task or speak in front of a group or be the one to say the prayers honoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg when we did that in front of the federal courthouse at Vigo County.

Even deeper, for me, she continues to guide me about how to live my commitments. And granted, my commitments were different than hers — religious vows in the Catholic tradition and [Terry] a very devout and righteous Jewish woman. In many ways, [however], they’re really not that different.

It’s a big transition to get used to connecting with her through prayer and through a presence beyond the veil.

Patty Lewis, UHC Sisterhood president

We’re lucky enough to have the memories — and that’s what we have to live with when you lose someone.

Betsy, I know she was your right arm and always there when you needed her. We’re lucky enough to have the memories — and that’s what we have to live with when you lose someone.

Roger Reiner

I could just tell [Terry] had that volunteer blood in her that some of us have in our synagogues.

My favorite memory of her is last year, I just happened to pull in to the parking lot and Terry said, “I’m about to go see Walter” [at Westminster Village]. I said, “can I go with you?” and she said, “oh, absolutely!”

I could just tell she had that volunteer blood in her that some of us have in our synagogues.

Shani Zucker

It’s been a hard year for us all.

Almost every weekend at Westminster [visiting Shani’s late parents Allane and Karl Zucker], I would look forward to seeing Terry and the Sommerses. It was every day or every other day she would make the drive [from her home in Illinois]. I marveled how she could keep up with the drive back and forth.

It’s been a hard year for us all.

Debra Israel, UHC board

I just remember times when I would be sitting next to someone [at the synagogue] and I would [ask], how did you come here? and it turned out it was a Walter Sommers connection. [Walter would] say, you have to go to the synagogue, you have to go on Friday night. Even when he wasn’t able to come anymore.

And so I feel in some ways Terry was continuing Walter’s tradition of introducing everybody to each other.

Steve [Fear] said this was the shock of his life. You see someone who is so alive — and relative to many others in our congregation  so young — you don’t expect that something like this could happen.

I’m so appreciative always of the congregation here. It’s been really good to have an extended family in the congregation for myself, for my kids and [for the opportunity] to get to know people of different generations.

Joshua Alper

I’ve never known a person with a more dominant “justice gene” than Terry. It informed and motivated everything.

In my family, we have an expression for someone who is deeply committed to matters of social justice and we refer to them [as carrying] the “justice gene”.

I’ve never known a person with a more dominant justice gene than Terry. It informed and motivated everything. She saw the world through it. Quite extraordinary, I think.

Bill Gilmore

Nancy and I are here partly because we grew up in the community as kids. The culture of the Temple and the Jewish community in Terre Haute couldn’t have been more special and couldn’t have been a better influence for us.

We come back and we keep seeing it over and over again. In addition to that social justice gene, Josh, I think there’s also a “love gene”. And it’s part of what the Jewish spirit is to me, spreading love in the community and to others, and that’s what drives the social [interaction].

You want to do it because you care about people.

That’s one of the things we learned. And as I listen to the group here, I just hear it. It’s there. It hasn’t disappeared from the Temple at all. It’s phenomenal.

Steve Fear

Thank you so much for the all the kind words and the prayers and anything you folks have thought about Terry. You’re lifting us up. You’re lifting us up, our family.

I’m sad; I’m really sad. I’ve lost my best friend, I’ve lost my love. But it’s been easier for me with all you folks saying the things you say and I know you’re saying them from the heart.

So, it can’t get any better than that. Thank you very much, everybody.

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