Resident Spotlight: Berry & Betty Terry


Betty and Berry Terry will celebrate seventy years of marriage on August 2, 2022. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average age for a marriage in America is twenty years. One expert has identified the components for longevity as love + maturity + mutual respect. This is the story of Betty and Berry’s life together. 

Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Wilson was born in Keiser, Arkansas. Betty and her younger sister had a wonderful childhood. Betty took piano lessons, was active in the Rainbow Girls, Girl Scouts and church. Her mother was a teacher and was very pro-educational. She sent Betty to live with her grandmother in Conway, Arkansas to attend a private school for kindergarten and first grade. When Betty was in fourth grade, the family moved to Conway. Betty’s mother became the teacher of sixth grade and a young man by the name of Berry Terry was a student in her class. 

Berry Edsell Terry was born in Mt. Vernon, Arkansas, and the last child in a family of ten children. His parents were farmers and in their forties when he was born. Berry always worked to help support himself; however, sports and church activities occupied much of his young life. 

Although attending the same high school, a relationship with Betty did not happen until Berry was in the eleventh year of school. He first noticed Betty as she walked down the hallway at school. Berry says that he was attracted to her because of her beautiful auburn hair. Their first date was at the First Baptist Church in Conway, Arkansas. On their second date, Betty asked Berry for his sports jacket. According to Berry, “I was very proud of that jacket. However, I knew it meant we were going steady and I did not want anyone else to have her.” When asked what Betty liked about Berry, she said, “Berry was smart, had good morals, and a strong work ethic. I knew he was the type of person I wanted to marry.” 

When Betty’s mother knew things were getting serious, she discouraged their dating. She had plans for Betty’s life! However, Betty and Berry also had a plan. Betty enrolled in summer classes to finish high school early. Following his graduation, Berry attended college for one year, then enlisted in the Air Force so that he could support them. After his first paycheck, Betty joined him in Biloxi, Mississippi where he was stationed. Without her parent’s knowledge, Betty planned the elopement and did not tell her family of her marriage for three days! Berry’s family was aware of the plan and insisted that they be married by a minister. Looking through the phone book, they found one who performed the ceremony in his study. 

Finding suitable and affordable housing was a problem and the couple moved frequently in a short period of time. Betty worked briefly as a salesperson but was soon employed as a secretary in the famous Edgewater Hotel in Biloxi. “It was a wonderful job which afforded me with many opportunities”, says Betty. Their first child, Laura, was born the following year. Scott, a son, would join the family three years later. 

Berry remained in the Air Force for twenty years, retiring in 1972 as a Master Sergeant. He served two overseas tours, Japan and England. He was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal on three occasions. Betty and their children joined Berry for the three years spent in England. 

Laura, Berry, Betty & Scott Terry

Berry was transferred to Memphis, Tennessee where he served five years at the University of Memphis in the Air Force ROTC Department. Following his retirement, he served an additional five years with the Junior ROTC Detachment at a high school in Decatur, Alabama. 

Berry was ordained as a Baptist Minister in 1999. He was privileged to perform the marriage ceremony for all five of his grandchildren! He has served in ministerial and administrative positions in churches in Alabama as well as five years as Church Administrator at First Assembly of God Church in Memphis. Both Betty and Berry have been involved in many mission fields including Belize and Kentucky. “We are involved 100% in these ministries. Fundraising, as well as continual support, is our mission,” states Betty. 

Betty and Berry have enjoyed extensive travel by train and cruises. The trip through the Panama Canal and a twenty-day visit to Israel and Jordan are among their most memorable. 

The Terrys moved to Kirby Pines in August 2014. Berry has served as Director and Secretary/Treasurer of the Psalms Board since 1994. He serves in the same position for The Farms at Bailey Station. Berry is also currently in charge of the Sunday morning worship service at Kirby Pines. 

Betty discovered her love for cooking at an early age. In 2011, she won first place in the Fund Craft Recipe Contest and her recipe is published in their cookbook. The recipe for key lime coconut cake is now being served by the Chef at Kirby Pines! Besides cooking, Betty also enjoys reading and the Book Baggers Club at Kirby. 

The things Betty and Berry enjoy most about Kirby Pines are the friendly people, the outstanding staff of employees, and the beautiful campus. What an asset to Kirby Pines is this couple. As they celebrate their seventy years together, let us join their family, which now includes fifteen great-grandchildren, in wishing them many more healthy and happy years together.

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines