Tony L. Terrell, age 71 of Clintonville, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, December 8, 2019 at his home.
Tony Lee Terrell was born on December 6th, 1948 in Duncan, Oklahoma to Happy Jack Terrell of Rocky Springs, Oklahoma and Joy Mae McClanahan of Sante Fe, Oklahoma. Tony was Happy and Joy’s first-born child. He was joined shortly thereafter by his siblings, Wesley, Patricia, and Joe Terrell. Tony’s early life was spent as was most children of the time. Being outside, outdoors, and exploring the benefits and possibilities of an Oklahoma country lifestyle with animals and nature all about them. He enjoyed Fishing, hunting, hiking, and learning. There were many times Tony took the opportunity to raise the occasional “critter”. He had an owl, skunk, and even a Raccoon to name a few. Tony learned to appreciate that you must work diligently for what you want and anything worth having is worth taking care of. From this ethic and perspective, Tony began to develop an interest in machinery and mechanics. He was also interested in the creative processes of music and the written word. Reading and writing were the more common ‘media’ of the time and Tony embraced both with equal interest. Additionally, Tony was an accomplished pianist. He competed and excelled in High School competitions. Music was then, and always has been, of great interest and joy in his life. Tony Graduated from Comanche High School in Comanche, Oklahoma on May 27th, 1966. At the time of his graduation, Tony was a member of the “Quill and Scroll” International Honorary Society for High School Journalists. Immediately after graduation from High School, Tony Lee Terrell enlisted into the United States Coast Guard on June 23rd, 1966. Tony served continuously with the Coast Guard until June 23rd, 1970. Tony entered Bootcamp at Cape May, New Jersey. Afterwards, he served on the United States Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Woodbine (a buoy tender) at Grand Haven, Michigan from September 1966 to February 1967. Tony attended Engineman School at Groton, Connecticut from February 1967 to June 1967. He was then assigned to the Milwaukee Lifeboat Station (search and rescue) from June 1967 to March 1968 where he had a ring-side seat to the 1968 Milwaukee Riots. Tony next volunteered for Combat Service in Vietnam with USCG volunteers to perform combat patrols and interdiction operations in the rivers and canals of the Vietnam Delta. He completed SERE training at Alameda, Camp Pendleton and San Diego, California (Coronado Island) March 1968 through April of 1968. Tony was then deployed to Vietnam with a primary stationing at An Thoi, Phu Quac Island with USCG Squadron 1, Division 11, from April 1968 to May 1969 where he conducted interdiction and riverine combat operations. At the end of this deployment, Tony returned to Racine Lifeboat Station at Racine, Wisconsin from June 1969 to December 1969. On November 6th, 1969, Tony participated in the Coast Guard response to the Mack Truck Leer jet airplane crash into Lake Michigan. He then transferred to the USCGC Raritan from December 1969 to April 1970 and then finally to the Milwaukee Lifeboat Station (search and rescue) from April 1970 until his final honorable discharge from service on June 23rd, 1970.
In Tony’s words: “My service began at the age of 17. It gave me an opportunity for adventure, responsibility, and career training. Running the rivers and canals of the Delta in Viet Nam, working occasionally with fellow ‘riverines’ of the Navy and Army Special Forces, combined with the search and rescue operations in the Great Lakes, served to give this ‘Coastie’ a greater appreciation for life. At discharge, I was an E-5 Engineman Second Class.”
Dad’s Service and Award medals include the National Defense Service Medal for service on or after January 1st, 1961, Vietnam Service Medal with one Bronze Star, Vietnamese Campaign Medal with Device, Navy Unit Commendation Award, and his first Good Conduct Award for service from June 24th, 1966 to June 23rd, 1970.
As was earlier stated, Tony was stationed at the Milwaukee Lifeboat Station from June 1967 through March 1968. In October 1967, Tony was attending services at the Navarino Evangelical Free Church in Navarino, Wisconsin where he first met a young woman named Ruby. This chance encounter was the beginning of a life-long love and marriage with Ruby moving from her family home near the Navarino Ski Hill to Milwaukee to ‘get her man’ and sailor. Once there, Ruby Louise Carpenter and Tony Lee Terrell only actually ‘dated’ three times before he asked her to be the “mother of his children’. Tony and Ruby were married on February 10th, 1968 at the very same church they first met in. Their story-book marriage endured and prospered for 51 beautiful years which included the birth of their first child, Andrew Eugene Terrell on December 1st, 1968 while Tony was deployed to Vietnam. After his return to the Milwaukee Lifeboat Station, their second bundle of joy, Lana Mae Terrell, was born on October 4th, 1970. Years later, Lana would marry Johnny Tyler Fewell of Tuttle, Oklahoma and give Tony and Ruby their first Grandchildren, Laura and Ashley Fewell. Her marriage and his precious Grandkids completed for Tony what he considered a fulfillment of all possible bests in this world. A life full of love and happiness with Ruby; his love, his true Sweetheart, Buddy, and partner in life; observing and often participating in the success in life of his children, Andrew and Lana; and finally, enjoying the opportunity to be a good and faithful mentor to his Grandkids at the beginning of their life’s journey.
Tony’s work and educational history is varied, but consistent. He was always working to improve himself and the prospects of his family. After his military service, Tony took his mechanical training and put it to great use as a large truck diesel mechanic. Tony was a strong and big man at 6 foot 3 inches. Physical labor and effort were as natural as breathing to him from both his youth of outdoor living and through his military service. Tony excelled at diagnosing and learning the intricacies of engines and repairing them. His desire to improve on his possibilities and his family’s wellbeing prompted Tony to seek opportunities in his chosen field. He moved his family on a couple occasions within Wisconsin and Oklahoma working to promote his talents and prospects. This endeavor included a two-year contract overseas in the middle-east to work the oil rigs and platforms in the Persian Gulf. Never missing an opportunity for adventure, he brought his family along for the adventure. During this ‘tour’, Tony was able to treat his family to trips further abroad to Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea and other points of interest in between. Upon the end of his contract, Tony returned his family to the United States and settled in Oklahoma to continue his mechanic’s trade locally in Oklahoma City. As for all persons blessed with longevity and experience, Time is a great teacher and demonstrated to Tony that his productive window in such a physically demanding field was closing. Tony and Ruby then decided to change careers and, together, attended College to become Nurses while both still worked their full-time jobs. Tony graduated from the Oklahoma City Community College as a Registered Nurse (RN) on May 9th, 1996 with an Associate Degree in Nursing. He began working at local hospitals until an opportunity came, by chance, for him to apply as a psychiatric Nurse while he was visiting his children near Terrell, Texas. Tony was hired on the spot and shortly thereafter, moved his home and Ruby to the Texas town of Terrell to work for the State of Texas, State Hospital in Terrell. Ruby joined Texas State employment at the same facility shortly thereafter and both worked until their retirement. After his retirement, Tony endeavored to return to the one place where he once lived and enjoyed his early adult life, Wisconsin. Tony was an avid fisherman and outdoorsman, and Wisconsin was the best of all places he had yet experienced. A home in Clintonville, Wisconsin was purchased as a final home and destination. Tony and Ruby were caring for his parents Happy Jack and Joy Mae in Texas until their passing in early 2015. Later in 2015, Tony and Ruby moved into their Clintonville home. Once Tony joined his new community of Clintonville, he became active with Clintonville’s VFW Post 664 and the ’40 & 8ers’ out of Shawano. Tony went on to become VFW Post 664’s Quartermaster and held that responsibility and post until his passing this month.
Tony advocated for Veterans and for the support their honorable service deserves. He had sponsored for and advised Veterans in need of various services available specifically for them and would often counsel in his personable and brotherly way as to their absolute value to this world as a whole and specifically to their family and friends. ‘Leave no one behind’ was not a platitude to him, it was a directive and a matter of personal honor to him to serve his brothers and sisters in arms. Dad loved his Family and Fishing. Listening to and watching Family sing and play together. He especially loved listening to Roy Orbison songs. Dad enjoyed laughing and sharing adventures. He loved trying new things and meeting people. Once Dad met you, you were his friend. It was impossible not to like this guy. We love you Dad!! Salute!!
Tony Lee Terrell is survived by,
His Wife and Love of his Life: Ruby Louise Carpenter-Terrell – Clintonville, WI
His Children: Andrew Eugene Terrell – Clintonville, WI and Lana Mae (Johnny Tyler) Fewell – Clintonville, WI
Grandchildren: Laura Celine Fewell – Stevens Point, WI and Ashley Nicole Fewell – Clintonville, WI
Brothers: Joe Terrell – Gays Mills, WI and Wesley Terrell – Harris Park, CO
Sister: Patricia Royal – Oklahoma City, OK
Tony was preceded in death by his Parents, Happy Jack Terrell and Joy Mae McClanahan.
Tony’s Funeral Services have been arranged for:
December 13th, 2019 on Friday at Eberhardt-Stevenson Funeral Home Eberhardt-Stevenson Funeral Home & Crematory, 53 N. Main St. Clintonville, WI 54929.
Viewing will begin at 9am and the Services will commence at 11am.
Services and Military Honors will be conducted by VFW Post #664, American Legion Post #63, and American Legion Auxiliary Unit #63, all of Clintonville.
All are welcome to attend.
Dad had more friends and comrades than I could ever count in addition to a large and loving family.
There will be no grave-side services.
After the Service, a Lunch will be served at VFW Post 664’s Hall in Clintonville, Wisconsin at 10 W. Morning Glory Drive where Tony served as Quartermaster.
All are welcome to bring a dish of your favorite food to add to the feast and gathering in remembrance of Dad and to share our good tales and talks with him.
As Dad was fond of saying, “Until we meet again…Salute and God speed”.
An online guestbook is available at eberhardtstevenson.com.
To send flowers to Tony's family, please visit our floral section.