Terry Bowe’s clients know him as their friendly State Farm Insurance agent. After all, he’s been helping folks, including a lot of fellow Golden Bears, find insurance in Charleston for 35 years. Others know Terry as a storyteller with a love of history and a passion for a good tale. In both these lives,Terry is able to tap in to his history, his skills and his education.
Terry started at Tech in the summer of 1970. His family could not afford room and board, so he commuted to college every day. It wasn’t easy. For the first two years, Terry hitchhiked from Riverside to Montgomery. And, regardless of the weather, he walked across the bridge to catch a ride home.
“I’m proud to say I never missed a class. My mindset was serious at the time. My parents and grandparents instilled in me that the only way to gain a better life was to attend college and graduate,” Terry recalled.
He loved studying history. “My advisor was Dr. Otis K. Rice, a Tech legend. He was also one of my father’s teachers.” Terry also had a connection with esteemed history faculty members, Dr. Kenneth Bailey and Dr. Ronald Alexander. They were graduates of the same high school Terry had attended. It was an English faculty member, Professor Fasanoli, who helped him gain the skills to share his love of history through storytelling. While she was one of the toughest teachers he had ever encountered, Terry shared that she taught him about the importance of attention to detail. “She was an exceptional teacher who I owe much for my success,” he says.
Terry was drafted into the Army just a few days before his twentieth birthday. He trained as a military policeman before being sent to the Netherlands to serve at a small international NATO installation in the city of Maastricht. He felt lucky with this assignment, as he always dreamed of going to Europe.
Terry’s travels, the history buff was able to visit numerous World War II sites, countless military museums and various places pertaining to the war.
After an honorable discharge in 1974, Terry returned to Tech with funds from the G.I. Bill. After he graduated magna cum laude in December of 1975, he began working at Tech as a coordinator of tutorial services. He started teaching for the Upward Bound program in the summer of 1976. It’s where he met his first wife, Beverley Tabit Bowe, who also taught in the program. She later became a professor in the English department and her mother was the assistant librarian at the Vining Library.
Terry remarried in 2001 to Ruth Ann Shanklin Smith. Terry has two sons and three step-daughters, and he’s happy to announce that they are all college graduates. His son in-law, Scott Dumrongkietiman, is a lieutenant colonel with the WV Air National Guard and a Tech grad in electrical engineering. His son, Nathan, holds a civil engineering degree from WVU and attended Tech for part of his college career.
Last year, Terry published his first book.“Schimmert: Journey to Silence” is a historical romance fiction novel centered in the small Dutch town of Schimmert between 1936 to the end of World War II.
Terry shares that he always wanted to write a book to honor his lifelong friends and family. He incorporated his love for West Virginia, the Netherlands and the WWII setting. Terry recalls spending hundreds of hours researching. “I wanted the historical and period facts to be accurate.” He attributes his attention to detail and “getting the facts right” to his education at Tech.
Terry inserted the first or last names of friends as characters in the book to honor their cherished friendships. Tech’s former name, New River State College, is also referenced in the book as a nod to his alma mater.
After struggling for more than two years, Terry finished the book. “It was the hardest project I have ever tackled, but I’m ecstatic that I can mark it off my bucket list,” he says.
When asked for advice for aspiring writers, he shared, “Through all the hard work, I learned a lot. I realized that getting several good editors, a wonderful illustrator and cover artist worked wonders during my endeavor.” He also said that having a network of supporters helped throughout the process. “My family and my wife’s heartfelt patience and support were much welcomed.”
Terry is still working and shares that even though his family insists on him retiring, he says that he’s waiting until the right time. He is excited for the new adventures ahead, including the arrival of a granddaughter.
Terry’s book is available on Amazon.