This statement was written and read by Terry's brother Dean at Terry's 30th class reuinion in Waterford Township, Michigan in 2002

On October 24, 2000, we suffered the loss of a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a statesman, and a friend.  In Terry’s relatively short life, he accomplished more than many of us will ever dream of accomplishing, even if we live to be very old.  Terry knew he was never promised a multitude of years, but he also understood that he was responsible for what he did with the years he was given.

Terry was born at Pontiac General Hospital on January 31, 1955.  His schooling started at Mark Twain Elementary School in Pontiac where his gifts were recognized early on, and he went straight into second grade after kindergarten (which is why he was a year younger than most of you).

He also attended Houghton and Riverside Elementary Schools before entering Pierce Junior High.  At Pierce, Terry started developing his talents in music and drama, playing trombone in the band and appearing in several of the school plays.

Watch incredibly poignant news coverage of Terry's passing

Being four years younger than Terry, I was fairly oblivious to what was going on in his school life.  The only thing I really remember before he was in high school is that I saw him in “The Monkey’s Paw” at Pierce, and I also remember the one time Terry got into enough trouble at school that our parents were called.  It seems that one day in band, the director was announcing that he was going out of town for a few days, and that the high school band director was going to fill in for him.  He stated that he felt this would be good for these budding musicians, as it would give them the opportunity to play under the direction of another fine director, to which Terry replied in front of the entire band, “Another fine director?”

Terry started honing his leadership skills in the years he attended Waterford Township High, and worked his way through different student government positions until, in his senior year, he attained his ultimate goal—class president. 

During his senior year, he decided to apply to Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC.  Of course, he was accepted; but he didn’t realize the long-term effects his decision would have on our entire family.  There was also an “accidental” decision Terry made that would ultimately shape the course of his future.  Having excelled in the band at Township, his choice of anticipated majors was Music, with a proficiency in trombone.  After loading the car, we made the trip to Greenville.  Once we arrived and were given Terry’s dorm room assignment, we took all of his things to his room.  He made an initial inventory and realized he had made a terrible mistake.  There was no trombone.  Of course, the normal solution to this problem would have been merely to ship the horn to him; but Providence guided Terry to a different conclusion.  He changed his major to Speech.

During his freshman year, I envied the “freedom” Terry was enjoying some 700 miles away from home; of course, being 14 years old, I didn’t really understand that freedom is a relative term.  I also learned that the family of one of my best friends was moving from Pontiac to Greenville, and that my friend would be attending Bob Jones Academy, which is the high school situated on the University’s campus.  Those two factors led me to apply to Bob Jones Academy.  I made the initial contact with the school without anybody’s knowledge.  It wasn’t until after I had completed all the necessary paperwork that I shared my idea with my parents.  They agreed to allow me to send the application in and see what would happen.  I was accepted, and the following year I moved into a dorm room next door to Terry’s, and spent my 10th grade year there.

Having two of their children attending school 700 miles away, my parents decided to sell the house and business, move to Greenville, and enroll my younger sister in the Academy as well.  That happened in the summer of 1975, and my family all still lives in Greenville.

Terry finished his undergraduate degree in Speech, and decided to continue his education at Bob Jones, obtaining his master’s degree in public speaking.  One of the requirements for graduation, both in the undergraduate and post-graduate speech programs is that the student write a major speech and then give the speech before an audience.  The topics of both his bachelor and master’s speeches reveal the Terry we all knew.  The topic of his undergraduate presentation was “Humor: Exercising Your Funny Bone,” and his graduate speech was “The Christian in Politics.”  In the latter, Terry outlined his plan to occupy the White House.  From his perspective at that young age, the plan would fulfill what he believed to be the highest possible achievement in his chosen career path.  During his post-graduate studies, Terry proposed to, and married, Gloria Arias.

Upon obtaining his master’s degree, Terry headed to Columbia to attend the University of South Carolina Law School.  Terry’s decision once again affected me, for after he moved, I also decided to move to Columbia, where I got my first taste of performing music professionally.  Three years later, Terry got his law degree, and he and Gloria moved back to Greenville to start a family and put the rest of his political plan into motion.  I, on the other hand, decided finally to strike out on my own, and I moved to Lynchburg, VA where I still live. 

While getting his legal feet wet, Terry became the youngest city councilman in Greenville’s history.  Making his mark there, he ran successfully for the State House of Representatives where he was ultimately elected by his peers to the position of Speaker Pro Temp.  He served as president of the National Republican Legislators Association in 1997‑1999, and was named the National Republican Legislator of the Year in 1990.  Politically, his two most memorable achievements were his crafting of a unique bill that ultimately outlawed video poker in the state, and his successful moderation of the difficult situation that led to the Confederate flag’s removal from the State Capitol.

Terry also regarded seriously the biblical admonition to “be fruitful and multiply,” bringing four boys into the world—David, Bryan, Hayden and Harlan.  Terry poured his heart into these boys, consistently admonishing them to choose right; and he always did more than admonish—he lived that way as well.   He also took the time to personally teach each one of them to read before they reached kindergarten. Terry seasoned every aspect of his life with the early commitment he made to Christ.  Nobody who knew him, either publicly or privately, ever questioned the fact that Terry understood fully that he answered to a Higher Power.  His commitment to his Lord was apparent throughout his life.  In a culture that regards the term “Christian” loosely, and has defined it to mean whatever fits one’s particular situation, Terry’s life resonated the true dynamics of Christianity, and he embraced his salvation with vigor.

Little did Terry know that his plans and God’s would be so different; but in true Christ-like form, Terry not only accepted God’s will for his life, he determined in his heart to display his faith through his situation.  In the five years that he battled cancer, I never once heard him complain about his circumstances.  Yes, he battled the disease with every ounce of strength he had, but even when most would have yielded defeat, Terry forged ahead, determined to accomplish as much as he could with whatever time he had left.  His colleagues were astonished at his mettle that pushed him to fulfill the responsibilities of the position to which he was elected.  Even while his body was obviously being devastated, Terry retained his keen mind and signature wit.

On July 27, 2000, our mother unexpectedly passed away.  Terry had just flown to Houston to begin yet another round of cancer treatments.  The doctors prepared him for the treatments, and then allowed him to fly back to Greenville to be present for the visitation and funeral.  Although he was in much physical distress and the disease had completely robbed him of his hearing, he spoke with each person in the vast crowd that lined their way through the chapel and out the door at the visitation.  It dawned on us that, in His tremendous grace and mercy, God had spared our mother the trauma of watching what was happening to her son.  Terry flew back to Houston the day after the funeral to endure his final barrage of treatments.

In his final days, he spent a lot of time fading in and out of consciousness, but when he was lucid, he persistently told each of his family members that he loved them—again, never complaining about his situation.  On October 24, he died quietly in his sleep and was instantly taken into the presence of his Lord.  I’m sure Mom was standing next in line to welcome him into Glory.

To say that Terry made a lasting impression on those who knew him, would indeed be an understatement.  The Greenville News puts out a special insert each year on "Greenville's 25 Most Influential Men." Both last year and this year, when Mayor Knox White was asked the questions, "Who is your best friend?" and "Who is the person you admire most in life?" he said, "Terry Haskins." Terry was also the person Speaker of the House David Wilkins chose as the person he admired most. This may be why the city is honoring him with the Memorial Garden, to thank him for his work in the renovation and re-creation of Greenville, and to show their love and admiration for him in a visible, lasting way. 

I always looked to Terry, not only as my older brother, but also as an example and a friend.  He introduced me to Batman, Maxwell Smart, and Mad Magazine; to the original Saturday Night Live and David Letterman; and to the trombone and drama.  But, the example he lived in his final days is what I desire to be his greatest influence in my life.  I pray that when that time comes for me, I’ll be able to face it with the dignity, the grace, and the humble servant’s attitude that my brother so eloquently did.

© Copyright, 2005, by The Terry E. Haskins Memorial Website Committee

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