Terry Chandler 1934-2008

September 5, 2008 at 5:54 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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My dad died in ’06 and my mom earlier this year.  And today I lost the man who came along and swept my mom and my siblings and me up off the floor when we were on hard times. 

Terry went in for a planned heart bypass operation in late July, and afterward he was weakened and there were infections and other complications.  He tried to fight it back but he didn’t improve.  My brother was with him at the end.  He died in the same hospital in Seattle where my siblings and I were born in the ’60s.

My mom and dad divorced in 1975 and Terry came along a couple years later.  While suspecting he wasn’t good enough for our mom, I also wondered why anyone in their right mind would want to marry someone with three teenaged children? 

He soon exceeded all of our wildest hopes, and he and my mom married in 1977 and stayed together the rest of their lives.  They were perfect together.  He had enough authority to keep us in line and enough compassion and character to make us engage him personally.  We really enjoyed getting to know him.  He supported us unconditionally, completely and in a style of which we were hardly accustomed.  He paid for almost all of my college education, voluntarily and cheerily.  When I was 19 I asked, why are you helping me so much?  “You don’t really have to, no obligation.”  He said, “I’m going to get you to support me when I’m old.”  It seemed a long ways off.

He had exquisite taste in food, alcohol and cars.  An audiophile, former sports car racer, a thinker — he looked like the original beatnik [or, as one of my friends put it, a science fiction writer], still wearing polka-dot shirts, a goatee and those thick-rimmed black plastic glasses from the ’60s until his death.  He was soft spoken, witty and seemed strange to us until we got used to him!

He dropped out of high school early.  The school he attended in the Bay Area was controlled by gangsters, and he survived by pretending to be part of one of the factions when he actually wasn’t, but he grew tired of it.  But he was the smartest person I ever knew.  He worked as a mechanical engineer and later had a mechanical contracting company.  He was well read and it wasn’t uncommon for him to speed read three 200 page novels in an evening. 

He constantly challenged all of my assumptions and we didn’t always agree, but he made me defend my positions and he wouldn’t accept half-baked BS in place of real research and grounding.  I still have a chip in one of my front teeth when he punched me across the room when I was 17.  I concluded then I deserved what I got.  Raging hormones or something, eh.  We never battled like that again.

I visited Terry in June and we spent a couple days talking about various future plans.  He seemed really depressed but like he was going to be alright, given a little more recovery time.  What a sad day.  What a beautiful man.

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