Guy Terry Jr. was buried Aug. 23 at Crown Hill Cemetery in Albany with full military honors, as a crowd of friends and family paid their last respects.
They remembered him as a man who made friends easily and had plenty of them, as a lawyer and retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and as a devoted fan of the University of Georgia Bulldogs.
That's how he should be remembered, says his son, Guy Terry III. Not as the guy with all the cars in his Martinez front yard.
See, Col. Terry lived in Martinez for 32 years. During that time, he collected cars. Lots of them. And he parked them in his front yard, in his garage, and in his backyard, and on the street in front of his Flint Rock Way home off Flowing Wells Road.
People who had no clue about the man inside the house - me included - just assumed the cars were an out-of-control accumulation of junk, sort of like stray cats hanging around an animal-hoarder's yard.
All many of those folks knew about Terry was from the casual occasional coverage of the periodic criticism of the accumulated vehicles, and his seemingly obstinate refusal to conform to the aesthetic wishes of others.
In fact, the county's case against him - for land use violations - was just a step away from heading to court when Terry's Aug. 19 death negated the case. The cars are still there for now, but his son says he'll move them soon - most likely selling the vehicles and the property.
Guy Terry III, a Valdosta resident, is pretty clear that those cars aren't what his father should be remembered for.
"He was quite an amazing man," Terry said. "There were people from all all over the country e-mailing with their condolences, and I think there's just a lot more to him than being aggravated by neighbors.
"In fact, I don't even think his neighbors were the ones complaining ... each neighbor across the street and next door to him, they didn't have a problem with Dad," Terry said.
So, how does he want his father to be remembered?
"Dad was a brilliant person. You should have seen the number of people at his funeral, and watch him given the military burial that he was entitled to," Terry said.
"I want my dad to be remembered for his intellect and his ability to make friends. And he liked his cars; as he got older he wasn't able to do as much with them as he wanted, but dad was really a friend to all - I don't know too many people who didn't like him, from mechanics to law professors."
Terry Jr. had a broad intellectual range. After earning a degree in English from UGA in 1957, he signed up for the Air Force and served 12 years.
He then went back to school and got a law degree and joined the Army. He served in the staff judge advocate corps where he rose to lieutenant colonel. Fort Gordon brought him here, where he retired in 1981.
You don't do that much, and come that far, by being nothing more than the cranky old guy down the block with a yard full of cars. In the end, he died as he lived, just wanting to be left alone to do what he enjoyed.
"He died watching the Olympic ceremonies," Terry III said. "My uncle checked on him and asked him if he wanted to do something, and he said, 'No, I'm staying home to watch the Olympics.'"
He later suffered a stroke, and did not recover.
"I wish I was more like him," Terry III says. "I wish I had his gumption. I wish I had his gall, and I know that he really did not care what anybody else in the world thought about him - that's kind of obvious."
And he sums it up: "Dad was a good man."
Forget the cars. They'll be gone soon, anyway. Instead, remember the man now that he is, too.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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