Tower memorial for Terry philanthropist

David Maly

Nancy Terry, co-founder of the largest private source of scholarships in the state, died from complications related to Parkinson’s Disease in her Houston home Saturday at the age of 85.

Nancy Terry co-founded the Terry Foundation, a Houston-based scholarship organization, in 1986 with her husband Howard Terry, who died last spring. The foundation has provided $46 million in scholarship funding to UT students since its inception, said Tom Melecki, director of student financial services at UT.

Melecki said Nancy Terry will be greatly missed by many for her exceptional personal qualities that prompted her to help others throughout her life.

“Mrs. Terry was a gracious and caring lady, and along with her husband, she made attendance at the University possible for more than 1,000 young Texans who could not otherwise have afforded to enroll here,” Melecki said in an email.

The foundation‘s endowment will increase following Nancy Terry’s death with the donation of funds from her estate, said Terry Foundation spokesperson Laura Sanders.

According to an obituary provided by the foundation, Nancy Terry was born Nancy Myers in Upstate New York, where she attended high school and college. She moved to Texas as an adult and married Howard Terry. They were married for more than 45 years until his passing.

Howard Terry was successful in the oil, gas and banking industries, and the foundation is completely funded by contributions from Nancy and Howard Terry. Howard Terry wanted to help others afford college, as he made it through UT in the 1930s with the help of financial assistance. The foundation gives scholarships to students at eight Texas state universities, according to the foundation.

The couple were honored multiple times for their charitable contributions in recent years. They were designated as National Points of Light by former President George H. W. Bush in 2001, and the Houston City Council designated March 22 as Nancy and Howard Terry Day in 2011.

Nancy Terry was preceded in death by her husband and one of her sons. She is survived by a sister and brother, three daughters, one son, 14 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren, according to the obituary.

The foundation will hold a ceremony in front of the UT Tower at 8 p.m. Thursday to celebrate the lives of the Terrys and commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Terry Scholar Program. The tower will be lit as part of the ceremony, and all Terry Scholars and members of the general public are encouraged to attend, said Ed Cotham, director of the Terry Foundation.

Printed on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 as: Ceremony to honor foundation founder