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Robert Baynham Terrell

robert terrell
Having valiantly outlived his Myleodisplasia prognosis by years, Robert Baynham Terrell died peacefully at home on May 25, 2007 after briefly battling pancreatic cancer, surrounded by family, during the fifth verse of “Amazing Grace” sung at his bedside. Born on September 12, 1926, Robert was the son of a New England Baptist minister, Dr. William Sale Terrell and Marjorie Smith Terrell who was active with the National Council of Churches serving as president of Church Women United during the Eisenhower administration. Born in Syracuse, New York, Robert, or Bob as he was known to many, parlayed his gift with the English language through a long career reliant on his careful, eloquent choice of words. After serving in the United States Navy at a gunnery post on liberty ships during World War II, Bob graduated from Phillips Andover Academy and embarked on his career with words at Colgate University preceded there by his father and brother Huntington. His quick wit and charm soon captured the heart of his bride of 56 years, Arline Gesswein Terrell whom he married after his graduation, on July 21, 1951. After completing his English major, Bob was obituary writer for the Hartford Courant in Hartford, Connecticut followed by a sports writing post at the Westporter-Herald. He then accepted a public relations post at Connecticut General Life Insurance Company in Bloomfield, Connecticut, a position he held through his Assistant Secretary appointment for 14 years. During his Hartford tenure, Bob became a loyal blood donor often coming home with the small stick pin in his lapel of a drop of blood with a cross on it. Having given gallons of blood in his lifetime, it was only fitting that his battle with Myleodisplasia relied heavily on the donations of others requiring frequent transfusions. From Connecticut General, Robert became Director of Information at the Rouse Company in Baltimore, Maryland at the inception of the building of the city of Columbia, Maryland. In the meantime, union unrest and corporate takeover of the largest privately owned shipyard in the world, the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, precipitated the need for a strong, vibrant, articulate man at its public relations helm where after 24 years, he retired in 1991 as Director of State Affairs and a registered lobbyist with the Virginia General Assembly. Throughout his business career, Bob participated passionately in volunteer activities. His involvement with the Visiting Nurses’ Association segued to Virginia governors Baliles and Wilder appointing him to the Statewide Council on Infant Mortality and the Southern Corporate Coalition to Improve Maternal and Child Health. This precipitated his appointment to the Medical College of Hampton Roads as a commissioner in 1987, then Vice Rector and finally Rector, a position he held for an unprecedented eight years. During this time he led the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce as Chairman of the Board during which time he also chaired the United Way of the Virginia Peninsula as Campaign Chairman. The Executive Committees of the Planning Council and the Future of Hampton Roads found him an active participant while serving as Vice Chairman of the Habitat Management Committee of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and the Chesapeake Bay Land Use Roundtable. His passion for his organizations can best be summed by fellow committee member in 1994, Mary Louis Campbell, “He displays a vision which is grounded in solid principles of accomplishment. He’s selective in his efforts and plays a strong role in pursuing the goals of those institutions for which he’s working.” Tireless in his business and volunteer endeavors, Robert was also a devoted family man enjoying his final years in San Antonio, Texas. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Arline Gesswein Terrell, daughter March Terrell Henley, her husband Steve and their son Henry of Woody Creek, Colorado and Linville, North Carolina; son John Rigby Terrell of Pacifica, California; daughter Melissa Terrell Moss, her husband Douglas, their daughters Elizabeth and Hannah of Pacifica, California; and daughter Kate Fairbank Terrell, her husband John Castillo, their son Geddes and newborn daughter Lucy of San Antonio, Texas. He is also survived by three nephews and three nieces. Considering his early volunteer days directing the Visiting Nurses’ Association, it was especially poignant that Hospice by Odyssey Health Care, Inc. guided his comfort during his final journey. Oganizations that Bob generously supported may be remembered in his name: World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy and the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Antonio. It would also please Bob to encourage those who can to donate blood. A memorial service will be held in late June at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Antonio.

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Memories Timeline


  1. Dear Arline, I learned of Bob’s passing in church on Sunday and extend by condolences to you and your family. All my best to you at this difficult time. Richard

  2. Our memories of Bob and Arline go way back to The Hartford Courant days and nights. We shared so much in those early days of friendship in Hartford, Wesport, Tariffville and Canton.Serious discussions and fun. Our last precious reunion was in San Antonio. We have lost a dear friend. Bob was a good man. Our hearts go out to Arline and their loving family. Bob and Artie Ramaker

  3. What a man Mr. Terrell was–wish I could have met him. How wonderful to be remembered for your service to others and to your family. Our prayers are with you.

  4. we look forward to seeing Mr. Terrell’s daughter March back in Linville where we’ll take good care of her and son Henry in her time of sorrow

  5. Even though we have not known Bob, what a wonderful man he must have been… a blessing to his community, his family and to many who will never have the privilege of knowing him. May God bless you and your family as you celebrate his life and mourn his passing with the hope of seeing him again in eternity. love, Henry and Denise Amat

  6. Dear March and family, What an incredible man your father was. We are deeply saddened by the news of his passing. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time. It is obvious that his memory and the causes he contributed to so effortlessly will remain in the hearts of those who knew him forever. With love and hugs, Vivian & Gareth Williams

  7. Having met Mr. Terrell at the wedding of March and Steve, we were greatly impressed by his friendliness and sincerity toward all those fortunate enough to be near him. Having met the family at that time, we now understand their values, sincerity and loving ways. We are sorry for your loss and send our deepest sincerity and love. John and Martha Henley Jackson

  8. Bob was so great at March and Steve’s wedding. Every request was met with a smile! He and his wife Arline were a great team. They have raised 4 spectacular children. He will be missed by all who knew him.

  9. What a wonderful man and tremendous loss to his family and all who knew him. Keeping you in our prayers as we continue sending our deepest sympathy and love. John and Martha Henley Jackson

  10. I send my love to all of you…Arline, March, Rig, Melissa and Kate, Lizzie, Hannah, Geddes, my sweet Henry and newborn Lucy. Having met Bob that once at March and Steve’s wedding, I am very thankful for that memory…of getting to know Bob and Arline’s magical life at Yarrow, his handiwork and life passions and seeing how these passions manifest themselves in his family. He will be with you, within you always. When you think of him…smile…and relish the memory as he was a man for living…gone too soon. I have been thinking about you all and feel your sorrow. We send our love…..Nina, Jess, Olivia and Oskar


  12. What a mentor for me as he worked so dilgently in the Virginia General Assembly! Only good thoughts as I remember his work. A great man who taught me a great deal.

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