My first memories of being inside a bank are of sitting with my parents in the office of Mr. John Terrell, owner of Merchants and Farmers Bank in Comer. Those meetings weren’t tense, or formal. In fact, they were relaxed and friendly.
My parents weren’t exactly poor, but they didn’t have a lot of money either, and if they needed money due to an illness, or for a better, more reliable car, or for repairs for the house, a loan from the bank was usually needed. And all it took to get those needed funds was a signature and a handshake, from the kind and gracious Mr. Terrell.
He would always talk to them, and me, as if we were “somebody,” just as senior center director Joe Dudley told me this week. That’s the way he said Mr. Terrell always made him feel. When he needed a loan for his first car, that’s where he went.
That’s where a lot of us went, and not just for the loan, but for the chance to be treated like “somebody.”
It might be years between when he and I saw each other again, but he always remembered me and who my folks were and would unfailingly make some comment about me as a child. It made me feel good.
Over the last decade or so, most of my contact with him has been at the senior center, where he was always helping out, usually through the non-profit Frances Wood Wilson Foundation, of which he was administrator. He and the late Eloise McCurley, the previous director of the center, were great friends and Joe told me that it is Mr. Terrell who is responsible for the lovely portrait of Eloise that now hangs in the entryway of the center that bears her name. You’d never have heard that from Mr. Terrell. No, he was a quiet self-effacing man, humble, and a great humanitarian, as his long-time friend, former State Representative Louie Clark, told me this week.
Mr. Clark said he and “Kid” Terrell, as his friends called him, were friends for over 30 years, meeting first in Athens, and then continuing their friendship here in Madison County. They would often get together for lunch at places like Zeb’s Barbecue or the Ila Restaurant.
“His favorite foods were chicken and dressing and banana pudding,” Clark said chuckling. “He was very modest and a true gentleman – the Last of the Mohicans, if you will.”
And it would be remiss of me or anyone else writing about Mr. Terrell not to mention his great love of Georgia football. Mr. Clark said Terrell never missed a game, home or away, as long as he was able to go.
I asked Mr. Terrell, on more than one occasion, to allow me the honor of doing a profile on him. He would always shake his head “no,” being very kind but firm – he just didn’t want the attention. That’s a rare trait indeed, especially in this day and age.
His recent passing at the age of 84 was a loss indeed.
Well, I hope he won’t be too unhappy with this column, after all it’s written by a little girl who looked up to a very kind, very true gentleman, who helped her and her family on more than one occasion. And I know I speak for many here in this county, and beyond.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for The Madison County Journal.
my memories of john terrell are the high esteem my parents held for him.
i also remember accompanying my dad, mr terrell, and several others to reece whitehead's house to watch them play horseshoes at night.
those were good times.