B. Stuart Terry

Deceased Photo: 
Date of Death: 
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
District Number: 
District 10
Obituary: 

Catawba County mortuary executive, local government official and civic and educational activist, Benjamin Stuart Terry, 74, of Conover, passed away peacefully Tuesday, June 7, 2016, following a 12 year battle with Parkinson's disease. After a distinguished career in the funeral service business in Raleigh, Terry returned to his native county and became a nationally-saluted leader in his profession.

A Hickory native born November 17, 1941, he was a son of the late William Ben Terry and Jessie Pearson Terry. He attended Hickory City Schools and was a 1959 graduate of Claremont Central High School in his hometown. Educated at Clemson University and NC State University, he majored in textile technology, but his lifetime career began when, as a student at NC State, Stuart Terry began working part-time at a local funeral home in Raleigh. He immediately started a two year apprenticeship with the company. Stuart enrolled in Cincinnati (OH) College of Mortuary Science where he graduated second in his class of 100 students.

He returned to Raleigh to begin a 22 year career with Brown-Wynne Funeral Home. Starting as a funeral director and embalmer, Stuart became manager of the company's North Raleigh location in 1972 and several years later became Vice-President of Brown-Wynne.

While in Raleigh, Stuart became a member of James B. Green Masonic Lodge, where he served as Master in 1977, and was also active in the Wake County Shrine Club, serving as President in 1978. He was an active member, deacon, and choir member of Bay Leaf Baptist Church in the North Raleigh community and was also a member of the Bay Leaf Volunteer Fire Department.

In 1986, with his family, Stuart returned to his native county and became the owner and operator of Drum Funeral Home and Willis-Reynolds Funeral Home and became an active citizen in local affairs. His son joined him in business and they expanded their company when they constructed a funeral home in Hickory, which they operate under the Drum name.

Several years ago as his health declined, Stuart Terry turned his professional daily activities over to his son, William Gregory "Greg" Terry, but continued to take part in civic endeavors. Over the last 30 years, he has served the Newton-Conover and Hickory area in a number of ways.

Stuart was an active member of First Presbyterian Church in Newton, serving as an elder, choir member, capital campaign co-chair, building committee member, stained glass committee chair, and member of various other church committees.

He was a member of Riverside Masonic Lodge in Catawba and was a former member of the Conover Fire Department, retiring with over 25 years of volunteer service. In 1995 he was elected to the Conover City Council, where he served for 12 years, including his last six years as Mayor Pro-Tem. As a councilman, he represented Conover in the Unifour area by serving as chairman of the Transportation Advisory Committee and the Greater Hickory Metropolitan Planning Organization, and also served on the Hickory Metro Trade Center Board and Tourism Development Authority.

Stuart was an active member, Paul Harris Fellow, and past president of the Newton-Conover Rotary Club, and had received the club's two highest awards, the Charles R. Corriher Vocational Service Award in 1999 and the Dr. William T. MacLauchlin Award for humanitarian service in 2009.

He was former chairman and member of the Catawba County Social Services board, former member of the Catawba County Council for the Arts, Catawba County United Way board, Catawba County Historical Association board, Catawba Valley Community Foundation board, and the Executive Committee of the Boy Scouts of America Piedmont Council, receiving their Silver Eagle Award in 2003.

Stuart's exemplary citizenship was evident also in his professional activity. He served two different terms as a member and president of the North Carolina Board of Funeral Service, and Drum and Willis-Reynolds Funeral Homes were inducted into the Hall of Excellence by the National Funeral Directors Association for receiving its Pursuit of Excellence Award for over 20 consecutive years and being named one of the top nine funeral homes in the country in 2008.

He co-founded Pathways, the area's first funeral home sponsored bereavement support group, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. In 1997, Stuart and his firms were the recipients of the Governor's Business Award for the Arts and Humanities.

Stuart's greatest joy was spending time with his family and traveling and fellowshipping over a good meal with family and friends. He was an avid Clemson Tiger sports fan, enjoyed flying and playing golf and, when he was physically able, working in his yard.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a granddaughter, Joanna Frances Terry, in 1994.

Survivors include his loving and devoted wife of 51 years, Frances "Frankie" Beauchemin Terry of the home; son and daughter-in-law, Greg and Julie Terry of Conover; granddaughter, Madeline E. Terry of Conover; grandson, Alexander "Alex" G. Terry of Conover; brother and sister-in-law, Steve and Michele Terry of Conover; sisters-in-law, Carolyn Tarkington and husband Gerald of Plymouth and Mary Charles Hardcorn of Conover; nephews, Bryan Terry of Conover and Randy Hardcorn of Houston, TX; and nieces, Lindy Terry of Burlington, Kelly Snead and Laine Tarkington, both of Raleigh, and Laura Richburg of Louisville, KY.

A celebration of Stuart Terry's life will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, June 10, 2016, at First Presbyterian Church in Newton. The church pastor, the Rev. Steven Barnes, and a former minister of Newton First United Methodist Church, the Rev. Dan Martin of Greensboro and Rev. Fred Thompson will officiate. A reception for family and friends will be held in the church fellowship hall following the service. A private graveside service was held at Conover City Cemetery prior to the service.

Honorary Pallbearers will be the staff of Drum and Willis-Reynolds Funeral Homes and members of the Conover Fire Department.

The family would like to thank the members of the Conover Fire Department for their commitment and help to "One of their Own" over the last few years as Stuart's health declined.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to the Terry Family Scholarship, c/o Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) Foundation, Inc., 2550 Hwy 70 SE, Hickory, NC, 28602; First Presbyterian Church of Newton, 701 North Main Avenue, Newton, N. C 28658; or the Michael J. Fox Foundation (for Parkinson's research), P. O. Box 5014, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5014.

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