A multi-talented man, Terry would have described himself first as an experimental physicist. He also was a talented oceanographer, an engineer, a woodworker, car mechanic, musician and lumberjack, as well as an avid hiker, backpacker, traveler and dreamer. He was intelligent, curious, irreverent, gregarious, extremely energetic and engaged in all aspects of life.
Terry was born and raised in Seattle, later moving to Whidbey Island with his parents and two brothers to build and run Teronda Ranch. He attended Coupeville High School where he honed his building, carpentry and mechanical skills as well as hiking, fishing and hunting with his father in the Cascades and Olympics. When the family moved back to Seattle in his teens, he attended and graduated from Roosevelt High School—where a passion for science flowered and he began to dream of a career as a physicist.
With the energy that would define him for a lifetime, he enrolled at the University of Washington as a physics major, married Joan Gamble in 1954 and began their family of 4 children. After graduating in 1959 magna cum laude, he began a five-decade long career at the Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington (APL/UW). Ever ambitious, he also started in the PhD program at the UW Physics Department. During his doctoral work, he spent a few years at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, University of California, doing several large high energy physics experiments. Playing his guitar and singing folk and protest songs (most memorable was with Joan Baez on the steps of Sproul Hall) and lifelong friendships with fellow doctoral students made these years magical.
Returning to APL, he founded the Ocean Physics Department, hiring theoretical and experimental physicists and oceanographers with joint appointments in APL and UW departments. In 1981 Terry spent two years at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge, UK in conjunction with his APL projects. Throughout his career, Terry focused on the design and execution of experiments to test theoretical predictions in oceanography and underwater acoustics. He developed programs in autonomous undersea vehicles, seabed waste disposal, submarine wake physics and Arctic Ocean acoustics. The experiments he performed reset how sound/ocean interaction is understood and modeled to this day.
Accolades were many. He was a professor of Oceanography and Electrical Engineering as well as a Principal Physicist at APL, a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, and a lifelong member of Clare Hall College, Cambridge University, UK. He mentored many MS and PhD students during his tenure at the Department of Oceanography. He retired as Professor Emeritus and predictably spent many following years not quite retiring.
Alongside his passion for science and his work, his energetic personality allowed him time for many other pursuits. Terry kept and added to his amazingly broad network of family and friends as well as many professional colleagues throughout his life. His membership in the Oatmeal Club on Bainbridge Island brought new friends, interesting coffee group discussions and lively camaraderie.
He fell in love with his wife Shirley in 1978 — a coup de foudre that lit the way to 45 years of love, adventure and steadfast companionship. As an avid outdoorsman, hiking and backpacking was a major part of Terry’s life — so he armed her with Redwing hiking boots, a red and black Woolrich coat, poncho, sleeping bag & pack — and they hiked up to Gothic Basin. That wonderful trip was the first of so many backpacking and hiking adventures in the Pacific Northwest as well as Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and California. Shared love of the outdoors and the allure of new trails also sparked the way to many long trips to remote areas of England, Scotland, Wales, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, France, Portugal, New Zealand and Australia. Traveling also included many road trips on back roads throughout the western US and Canada in his TR4. He loved driving it — and fixing it — from the day he bought it in 1969. (He totally restored it bolt by bolt in 1989.)
His driving skills weren’t restricted to cars. He owned and worked extensively with an old, but very reliable and large CAT excavator and dump truck, used for years at the cabin. All of his woodworking, mechanical, engineering and planning skills enabled him construct a bridge across Chiwaukum Creek to a cabin he built with both modern conveniences and off the grid viability. In 1999 he began construction of the cedar home he and Shirley retired to on Bainbridge Island — with a shop and garage big enough to house his tools for woodworking and other hobbies. He hired local experts in the community to help, retaining many as friends over the years. Terry was Energy plus Optimism Squared! His family and friends will miss him greatly. We are so fortunate to have had so many years with this amazing man, whose heart was always full of love, hope and dreams.
He leaves behind his wife, Shirley Robertson, his daughters, Elaine Hass, Ellen Ewart, Anita (Dave) Milam and Erika (John) Brooks and stepdaughters Sandi (Chris) Shrager and Laura (Keith) Holder, his brother David Ewart, his grandchildren, Brandon, Bridgette, Tiffany, Adrienne, Jim, Abby, Julia, Jonathan, Allison and Natalie and 7 great grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, an act of kindness offered to a friend or anyone in need is in keeping with Terry’s optimistic thoughts about mankind.
A celebration of Terry’s life was at the Wisteria house at the UW Botanical Garden/Arboretum on November 14, 2023 from noon to 2pm.