Local Christian leader, physician dies at 76

Sunday, October 18, 2009
Eloise Terry, of Cape Girardeau, left, shows her husband of 53 years, Dr. Bill Terry, how much she loves him at Chateau Girardeau. (Elizabeth Dodd)

Dr. Bill Terry, a local doctor who brought religion to the forefront for many in the community, died Friday at Southeast Missouri Hospital.

Terry, 76, had been battling Alzheimer's disease for more than five years.

He was one of the organizers for the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, an annual gathering sponsored by the Christian Business Men's Committee of Cape Girardeau. For 10 years, Terry served as chairman for the event, which drew as many as 1,500 people at one point.

Terry also hosted seminars and Bible studies throughout the community. Chris Edmonds, owner of Element 74, said Terry was influential, yet humble.

"He was the kind of guy who would drop what he was doing to help somebody," he said.

He said he met Terry through Bible studies and a marriage class but that his guidance went beyond those encounters. Edmonds said Terry was a mentor for him and many others. Terry's main mission was to help men become better husbands and fathers, he said.

"He really challenged me to step up to the plate and find my purpose and my passion," he said.

Terry was born in St. Louis in 1933 and his family moved to Memphis, Tenn., when he was a baby. He attended medical school at the University of Tennessee and graduated in 1957. Upon graduation he worked in Kentucky, Georgia and Tennessee.

In July 1963, he moved to Cape Girardeau to establish a private urological surgery practice. He was one of the planners of the Cape Girardeau Doctors Park and one of the first to move into the offices there. He and Eloise, his wife of 54 years, raised four children.

Edmonds said he visited Terry often as his mind slipped away with Alzheimer's. He said Terry still gave good advice in the midst of his condition.

"He still had a ton of wisdom packed away," he said. "He'd just say things and you'd know God was speaking through him, even through all that."

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday at Ford and Sons Mount Auburn Chapel. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.

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