A Voice from the Past

With age and a bit more time and more inner awareness, I pay better attention to the voices that call me to action.

In 1965 I was a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, newly married with a child on the way. I got a 20-hour a week job in the Classified Advertising Department at the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The art group had a supervisor and three artists and me. Terry Walker was one of the artists. I had no artistic talent but my job was mostly typing and I could type.

Terry was a terrific ad-man and an even better person: quiet, humble and caring–everyone liked him. Most of the full-time people didn’t pay much attention to the college kid who worked part-time. Not Terry. Terry was always friendly and interested in my classes. I could always go to him with a question or when I made a mistake. He always helped me and made things right. I worked for about a year and then had to quit to take some afternoon classes. When I was done, the job was open and I went back for another year and a half. I worked full-time over the summers. After I graduated in 1968, I returned for the third time for several months while I waited to become a Secret Service Agent. Terry and I were friends. I recall how proud of me he was when I became an agent. He had me over to show his young sons my badge and revolver.

In 1976 I returned to the Star Tribune as a District Manager in the Circulation Department. I went and saw Terry and we chatted and had lunch one day. The years passed. Terry retired and I left the newspaper in 1994. Suddenly it was 2007 and I no longer lived in Minneapolis. I had only seen Terry a few times since 1968. I began to wonder about him. Terry was many years older than I. Was he still alive? Where did he live? I couldn’t find him on the Internet.

I moved back to Minneapolis in 2009. I continued to think about Terry. I regretted not staying in touch with him. I wanted to thank him for befriending me as a college student. In 2011 I reached out to Human Resources at the Star Tribune and asked if they could help me contact him. A kind woman said she would call him and let him know I wanted to reach him. A couple of days later, Terry called me.

I went to see Terry and Shirley—a beautiful woman with a soul as great as his. Terry had broken his back years prior and was confined to a wheelchair and needed a lot of care. But he was the same man: warm, good and gracious. We were happy to see one another. He, Shirley and I spent a couple of hours talking. I got the chance to thank Terry and tell him how much he meant to me and how often I thought about him over the years. I had a battle with alcoholism in my 20’s and I was glad Terry could see a healthy and whole me with a life of successes after my drinking years. I admired him and Shirley and felt humbled in the presence of their decency.

I wanted to get together again soon. I forced myself to wait several weeks. I called and Shirley answered. She was crying. Terry had died just hours before (4/11/11).

I am grateful for the voice within me that kept bringing Terry into my awareness. And I am thankful I got to see Terry one more time and tell him what he meant to me.