As principal of Seeliger Elementary School, Laurel Terry’s motto was “Kindness Always.”
Her friend and former colleague Chris Butson said they were words Terry lived by.
“That’s just what she did,” Butson said. “She just made anybody and everybody feel welcome. People could talk to her about anything. They trusted she had an ear to listen.”
It’s the legacy she left her students, friends and family when she died Sunday after a long illness.
“I remember her just being a happy lady,” said former student Mackena Bell. “Always smiling. I don’t remember her any other way.”
Terry, 59, worked for the Carson City School District for more than 30 years.
She began her career as a fifth-grade teacher at Fremont Elementary School in 1978 where she taught for 11 years. She took six years off to raise her family then returned as a science teacher at Carson Middle School.
She taught there for four years — where she was named the district’s teacher of the year in 1995 — and spent one year as an intern counselor and dean of students before taking over as principal of Seeliger Elementary School in 2001.
In an interview with the Nevada Appeal at the time, she explained why she was drawn to education.
“I’ve always felt I should serve humanity in some way,” she said. “Being a teacher fulfilled that.”
In 2005, she became the English-as-a-second-language coordinator for the district and in 2010 took over as professional development coordinator.
“She did some tremendous things for us,” said Superintendent Richard Stokes. “She will certainly be missed. It is a sad time for us.”
She graduated from San Diego State University, and in 1976, she married Tim Terry, who she met at a summer camp in Colorado.
She and Tim continued to volunteer with Adventure Unlimited Discovery Bound, an outdoor activity camp for children, each summer. They also spent several years volunteering for Little League, where she served on the District 1 board and Tim as the administrator.
She was also an active member of the Christian Science Church. Tim said the same positive attitude she demonstrated professionally, she exhibited in her home life.
“That personality pervaded everything she did,” he said. “She was a real hugger.”
Butson said she had planned to visit Terry over the holidays.
“I guess she’ll be with me all the time now,” she said. “We were just soul sisters.”
A celebration of life for Terry will be at 11 a.m. Dec. 20 in the gymnasium at Carson Middle School. A luncheon will be held afterwards at the Terry home.
In memory of Terry, the family is asking donations be sent to the Adventure Unlimited Discovery Bound camp, 5201 S. Quebec St., Greenwood Village, Colo. 80111 or to “any charity the giver believes will help spread joy.”
Terry is survived by her husband; son Jonathan, 34; daughter, Allison, 31; and grandchildren Gus, 4 and Piper, 2.
A Facebook page RLUK (Recognizing Laurel’s Unforgettable Kindness) has been set up to create a campaign of kindness in Terry’s honor.