Paul D. Terrell, Jr.
Paul died 3 December 2021 at home of old age. Born 15 February 1928 to Lucy Ryan and Paul D Terrell Sr in Denair, CA, Paul Jr (Sonny) was the first born of 5 children. In his Freshman year at Modesto High he succumbed to the wiles of Grace Mary Brown and they married in 1950. He entered the military in 1945 and served as a training sergeant with the 101st Airborne training paratroopers, in the occupational force in Sapporo and at the jump school in Sendai.
Following the war, he attended Modesto Junior College and Stanford University, earning Civil Engineering degrees. He and Gracie raised 3 children in Marin County: Amy Terrell (Gene Peshette) of Citrus Heights CA; Paul D Terrell III of Mariposa CA; and Cora Helm (Scott) of Helena MT.
Paul began work for Bechtel Corporation in 1953 as a civil and structural engineer, and spent the majority of his career there. This career took him to the remote corners of the world: Bolivia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Melbourne, Indonesia, Algeria, Turkey, Brazil. After the children were grown, Gracie joined Paul on these overseas adventures that lasted years at a time. In addition to all the cool hydro projects he built, he took great satisfaction in mentoring junior engineers, particularly the Turks.
When not traveling the world, Paul practiced the art of woodworking and was an accomplished craftsman. From designing and carefully constructing beautiful and functional furniture to fixing clocks, appliances, cameras, and nursing boo-boos on fingers, there really wasn’t anything he couldn’t fix or make.
He introduced his children and Gracie to his love of the backcountry, with annual backpack adventures into the southern Sierra’s, where he familiarized his children with the writings of John Muir and the pleasures of 4-handed Pinochle.
In retirement, Paul and Grace settled in Novato, CA and became active members in the ballroom dance community. Their favorite band was the “People of Note” who played at Gracie’s memorial dance. It was delightful to see them dancing on the sidewalk in downtown Novato during outdoor music events. In the year 2000, Grace and Paul traveled to Nepal to assist in the adoption of their first grandchild, Sarah Urbati Helm. By 2003, they had their second grandchild, Isaac Francis Terrell, born to Paul III and Bridget Keller.
The family said goodbye to Gracie in 2017 leaving the family saddened, but comforted that Paul and Grace had celebrated 67 married years together in good health and spirits. We are grateful for the care and companionship of Paul and Grace’s live-in caregiver. Paul said goodbye to his eldest sister, Sally Migleo, her husband Ron, his younger brother, Dan Q Terrell, and Dan’s spouse Julie Santos Terrell. Paul is survived by his children, grandchildren and his two remaining sisters Mary Allen of Phoenix and Elizabeth Hillman of Turlock, CA.
Paul was a stand up guy all his life. He stood up for Gracie to the end of her days, and together they raised 3 independent stand up children. A devout atheist, he exhibited the practice of ‘Christian’ principles that would serve many religious people well. He lived with an open hand, and as a result his hands were never empty. May yours be the same. Per Paul’s wishes, no services will occur, but if you would like to honor Paul’s passing, take your loved one out dancing. If you don’t know how, take some lessons. You won’t regret it.
(To place a Life Tribute in a Marin Community Newspaper, please contact Publisher Sherman R. Frederick via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)