Terry Foundation

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

Daniela Herrera, a Terry Scholarship recipient and second year advertising and psychology major, lays a bouquet of flowers on a bench dedicated to Howard and Nancy Terry at the Harry Ransom Center Sunday evening after a memorial service for Howard Terry. Terry, whose foundation has donated millions of dollars worth of University scholarships, died Friday.

Photo Credit: Zachary Strain | Daily Texan Staff

Alumnus Howard Terry, whose foundation has donated millions of dollars worth of University scholarships, died Friday. A group of scholarship recipients gathered at the stadium Sunday to pay tribute to his legacy.

Many of those attending told their stories about how the scholarship made it possible for them to attend college and how the Terry Foundation fosters a support system for the scholarship recipients. The foundation asks students to give back to the foundation and their community in a way that reflects the approach Terry took in helping students succeed.

Terry graduated from the University in 1938 with a Bachelor’s in business administration after he captained the football team, according to the Terry Foundation website.

The Terry Foundation works with eight state universities, including UT Austin and the University of Texas at San Antonio, according to the foundation website. Student Financial Services director Tom Melecki said since Terry established the foundation in 1986, it has provided about 1,100 University students with about $46 million in private scholarship funds.

“Even after all this, Mr. Terry was always looking for more ways to help young Texans,” Melecki said.

Melecki said Terry and his wife Nancy personally contributed $230,000 in scholarships to 50 students who transferred into the University from 2011 to 2012.

“Howard Terry represented the best of the American dream — a self-made man who amassed a fortune with skill and hard work, but who understood that a cadre of bright, hard-working, well-educated individuals are the most enduring legacy any citizen can leave to his community, his state and his nation,” Melecki said. “UT Austin and its students have lost a dear friend, and the state of Texas has lost a giant.”

Alumna Honey Habingreither graduated in 2000 with a finance degree and told the other students and alumni that the scholarship allowed her to pursue her desires instead of being restricted by debt.

“It’s hard to listen to these stories because it’s all of our stories,” Habingreither said. “The Terry Foundation believed in all of us.”

Undeclared freshman Madison Russ said the scholarship makes all the difference because she comes from a single-parent household. She said she could never understand why other people didn’t worry about getting things done, but said with the scholarship she feels less concerned about paying for college.

“It’s weird because this person who you never met is gone, but they did so much for you,” Russ said. “I want to thank Mr. Terry for investing his time and money with me when most other people wouldn’t.”

A $1 million gift from the Terry Foundation will allow a UT historical facility to renovate for the benefit students and visitors. The $1 million, which was a personal gift from UT alumnus Howard Terry and his wife Nancy, will go toward renovations and upgrades of student and visitor facilities at the Winedale Historical Complex in Round Top, Texas, said Don Carleton, executive director of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Winedale is home to the University’s Shakespeare at Winedale program, a music program, special events and historical buildings. “We want to upgrade really anything that might be used by students and visitors,” Carleton said. “We’re going to try to bring facilities up to current standards. It’s going to make a much better facility for students to use.” The Briscoe Center plans to spend the money on new furniture and carpets, upgrading the bathrooms, painting, redoing the kitchen and anything else to improve the complex, Carleton said. Briscoe Center administration will rename the conference center and classrooms after the Terrys, he said. “It’s just a godsend, frankly,” he said. “It’s going to be incredibly important to Winedale. This is a very generous and timely gift that’s going to really enhance the visitation experience, not only for students but for everyone who comes.” Howard Terry grew up in the small town of Cameron, Texas, and attended UT on a football scholarship in the 1930s, said Ed Cotham, president of the Terry Foundation. Terry and his wife formed the foundation to give back to Texas by providing scholarships to needy students, he said. The Terry Foundation will provide about 700 students from eight different universities, including UT, with scholarships this year, Cotham said. Each year the Terry Foundation and its scholars have a picnic in the spring at the Winedale Historical Complex, he said. “Winedale is such a special place,” he said. “The students just love going there, and the Terrys just found the people there to be really special. They began thinking about something they could maybe do for Winedale and all the folks up there at the Briscoe Center.”