American Veteran 04

Phillip Ray Terry

November 29, 1941 ~ June 3, 2023 (age 81) 81 Years Old


Phillip Ray Terry of Woodsbend, Kentucky, departed this life on Saturday, June 3, at Clark Regional Medical Center in Winchester, Kentucky, following a short illness. He was 81. Born in Hazard, Perry County, Kentucky, on November 29, 1941, he was the fourth son of fourteen children born to Hazel Prater and Thornton Terry.  By all accounts, the first four brothers laid the foundation, the first chapter, of the Terry Family. Randolph (d.2010), Shorty (d.2022), Gregory (d.2017), and Phillip (d.2023) acclimated Hazel and Thornton to parenthood for a family that today counts nearly 100 descendants.  The boys, and most of their siblings, grew up in various coal camps in Eastern Kentucky before settling near Hazel’s family on Railroad Fork in Morgan County. A coal camp childhood wasn’t easy, and when Phillip came along, America was being pulled into WWII, making challenging times all the harder. The family continued to grow in number through the war years and beyond, and Thornton often worked away during the week, leaving the older children to help care for their younger siblings. Such circumstances bind families in ways people of privilege will never fully understand, and this bond shaped Phillip’s sense of duty, respect, pride, compassion, and gentleness and provided a bottomless well of goodness from which he drew throughout his life.  

         Phillip was an extraordinary man, easily one of the most positive individuals ever to walk the earth. He was rarely without a smile. He strove to have good, clean fun no matter what he was doing or who he was with. He loved to dance and make others laugh, employing physical comedy from time to time, particularly on the beach where he panicked strangers more than once with his dead man float. nevertheless, he had a gentle, easy soul that made him comfortable to be with and lean on. He was also driven to do well and be fit, and he remained physically fit throughout his life on a level that would tire a man three times his junior. 

        A star basketball athlete throughout high school at Hazel Green Academy, Phillip was a starting guard for 2 seasons, playing on the 1960 HGA District Championship team for Coach James I. Hollon, Jr. He graduated in 1961, and following brothers Randolph (USMC) and Shorty (Army), he enlisted in the armed forces later that year, first with the US Navy for a short six months (1961-62), then the US Air Force (1962-70), before settling into the US Army (1970-1995) where he served 34 years. He retired with the rank of Master Sergeant. Throughout his military career, Phillip carried a wide range of duties, from heavy equipment operator to drill instructor. He earned several distinguished service medals and awards, among them Meritorious Service, Army Commendation, Air Force Commendation, Army Achievement, Army Reserve Component Achievement, Army Good Conduct, Air Force Good Conduct, Air Force Longevity, National Defense Service, 2 Bronze Vietnam Service Stars,  1 Silver Star, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.  He was stationed at several bases stateside, including Edwards AFB in California, Ft. Hamilton, New York, and Fort Knox, KY, and abroad at bases in Cape Lisburne, Alaska, Thailand, and Germany, where he often met up with Shorty, also stationed in Germany.

     Perhaps Phillip’s most significant charge as a soldier came in January 1969 when his brother, PFC Ralph Paul Terry (Army), was killed in action in Phouc Long Province, Vietnam. Stationed in Thailand then, Phillip escorted his brother back to the States, facing head-on the ugly response toward American soldiers returning stateside. Despite the castigation, Phillip never wavered in his duty to his brother or his country, and he never lost pride in the United States Armed Forces or his fellow man. 

       It is always darkest before the dawn, and the best of Phillip’s life came soon after his 1969 mission. He was home on leave for a few days and, orchestrated by sister-in-law Shirley Terry, agreed to go on a blind date with Morgan County beauty Linda Gail Sheets. The couple were united in marriage on November 27, 1970. Their union was blessed with two beautiful daughters, Andrea Renee and Jessica Lucinda. He named them both. Phillip always said he wanted to have kids before he was too old to play with them. He made good on both counts, and because he was always fit, he was never too old to play with his four beloved grandchildren either. AJ Watkins, Logan Stigall, Adam Watkins, and Lyndsay Stigall got an easy-going, youthful grandfather who adored them more than they could imagine. He was a confidence builder and encouraged his children and grandchildren to work hard for what they wanted, to be honest and kind. Anyone in the family will tell you that Lyndsey was his baby. The adoration was mutual from all of them and from so many others. Phillip was loved. This family Phillip and Linda built together was his pride and joy.

        Phillip was preceded in death by his parents, Hazel Prater and Thornton Terry; five brothers Randolph, Norvin “Shorty”, Gregory, Ralph Paul, and James Trent; one sister Linda; mother and father-in-law, Kern and Mary Louise Sheets; brother-in-laws Galen Ray Wilson, Roger Vest, and Ralph Keith, and sisters-in-law Lucille Terry and Cheryl Sheets.

He is survived by his devoted wife of 52+ years Linda Gail, daughters Renee (Aaron) Watkins of Winchester and Jessica (Eric) Stigall of Mt. Sterling, four grandchildren AJ Watkins, Logan Stigall, Adam Watkins, and Lyndsay Stigall, four sisters and three brothers, Mabel Keith of Sebring, Florida, Barbara Schirmer and Lois Nell Wilson of Lexington, Harold (Phyllis) of Catlettsburg, Darrell (Judy) of Flatwoods, Danny (Sherry) of West Liberty, and Charlene (Tony) Adkins of Lexington, sister-in-laws & brothers-in-law, Shirley Terry of Lexington, Marcie Terry of Stanton, Nila Terry Crouch (John) of Mt. Sterling, Virginia Terry of Winchester, Ohio, Dale (Barbara) Sheets and Donna (Harlow) Cantrell of West Liberty, nieces and nephews Michael Terry, Jeffrey Terry, Kopana Terry, Ann Smith, Tamara Martin, Richard Terry, Tina Tkach, Mike Neal, Mark Keith, Eddie Fisher, Lanelle Fisher, Melissa Moore, Bryan Terry, Eviyan Terry, Kevin Terry, Lisa Terry, Brittany Perry, Jen Reynolds, Carrie Volz, Anastasia Mathis, Eric Steven Terry, Michael Sheets, Chris Cantrell, Nicole Murphy.

Visitation will be held at Potter Funeral Home on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, from 11 to 1. The funeral service will begin at 1 pm with Bob Stilson officiating. Burial with full military honors, including the Morgan County DAV Chapter 132, will immediately follow at the Sheets Family Cemetery, Woodsbend.

Pallbearers Aaron Watkins, AJ Watkins, Adam Watkins, Eric Stigall, Logan Stigall, Lyndsay Stigall, Chris Cantrell, and Michael Sheets.

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June 7, 2023

11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Potter Funeral Home,Inc.
329 Glenn Avenue
West Liberty, KY 41472

Funeral Service
June 7, 2023

1:00 PM
Potter Funeral Home,Inc.
329 Glenn Avenue
West Liberty, KY 41472


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