After serving the community as Fayette Emergency Management Agency director for almost 24 years, Fulton L. Terry is retiring.
Fayette County will celebrate Terry’s retirement on the fourth floor of the county building at 133 S. Main St. in Washington Court House from 1 to 3 p.m. today. The community is invited to congratulate and celebrate his long career as director.
Terry was born in Fayette County at his family’s home on Harrison Street on July 10, 1934. After living in the community through the sixth grade, he traveled with his mother to Detroit, Mich., when he was younger due to asthma-related health concerns. Terry finished school, met his wife Bertha in Detroit and soon they were married and had one child before they moved back to Washington Court House. Over the span of their 62 years together, the couple would have four more children, raise five foster children and they currently have 12 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
“I was on the police department and then went to work for GM,” Terry said. “I was on the fire department and I retired from there as a volunteer firefighter. I used to work at the Ohio Department of Transportation and I would plow roads, salt roads, mow and other stuff. I always wanted to come back here to Washington Court House though, so when I got married we came back here to take care of properties for my dad.”
Terry was educated at the General Motors Institute and at Sinclair Community College. He worked for the General Motors plant in Dayton for 28 years before retiring as a senior safety officer engineer. For 35 years, Terry would serve as a volunteer firefighter for the Washington Court House Fire Department before he retired from that job as well. Now after 24 years, Terry said he is ready for a little bit of a break.
“When we were little, my parents and grandparents would pack a lunch box when we were big enough and we would go with the men to work on Saturdays,” Terry said. “As we got bigger, they gave us a hammer and we got more to do. I have worked all my life man, so I am ready to relax. I still work with the nursing homes, I am still on committees for the county and of course I attend church. I won’t have (EMA duties) anymore, but I did tell them if they have a major incident and they need me, I’ll be available, but I won’t stick my nose in.”
Since October of 1993 when he became the director, Terry has been providing training and equipment for first responders to emergencies. Terry has also furnished information to help county residents in times of crisis. Ultimately, his goal has been to make Fayette County a safe place where people will want to live. He promotes the philosophy of working together, which is something he has continually done throughout his life.
“It’s been good and I have been working my whole life to protect people and their property,” Terry said. “When I first was told of this position I hadn’t even retired yet, but one of the commissioners at the time came to me and asked if I would take the job. I said, ‘Hey, time out, I haven’t even retired yet, give me a break.’ After I finally retired though I think I was not working for maybe a weekend and then I started here. I had one desk, one filing cabinet and no plans at all. We learn as we go, I don’t care how old or young you may be, there is always a process of learning. There is always a process of doing better and that has been my goal. I never left my home without asking for God’s direction on the challenges out here. I never forgot an evening before I closed my eyes to thank Him for all of his help. We have to work together and only then will we be able to get things accomplished.”
Terry is a member of the Tri-county Safety Council, has been active in local neighborhood watch programs, was awarded the Fayette County 2006 Hometown Hero Award and was even named the Holiday Parade Honorary Grand Marshal as well as the Record-Herald Citizen of the Year. He is a member of the Kiwanis Club, was inducted into the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging Senior Hall of Fame in 2010 and served as Lt. Governor for Division 10-W of Ohio. Additionally, Terry serves many roles as a member of the First Church of God. Terry said that the many years working in the county with all of the various organizations and entities has been great.
In Terry’s bio for his induction to the senior hall of fame it said, “Character is built slowly over a lifetime, a building block in the foundation of a well-lived life. It is the sum of right decisions, hard work, honest words, noble thoughts, a caring heart and an active faith. Fulton’s well-lived life is built ceaselessly protecting and caring for others.”
Don’t worry though, Terry said he can still be found on the corner of Harrison and Newberry, listening to his radio and making sure the community is still safe.
“Thank you to the community as a whole. It has been an amazing time and this is the greatest place to live,” Terry said.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy