Three Clouds Hang Over Terry’s Widow

Tacoma News Tribune – January 31, 1934
By Bob Heilman

Three black shadows hung over the life of Mrs. Rudger Terry as she sat in the corridor of the county courthouse Tuesday morning.

One was fear, which still shakes her soul as she thinks of her narrow escape from death, when a bullet moved the black turban over her golden hair – so close it came.

Another was the death of her husband, who succumbed less than an hour after the bullet which grazed her own head ploughed through his brain.

The third was the welfare of her three babies.

Dry-eyed and calm, even in the face of a tragedy and a future which threatens financial woes, the blonde and lovely widow told the story of her sorrow. For today Rudger Terry, known to thousands of sports-lovers in the Pacific Northwest, is dead. It is not so many hours ago he was active as referee for a wrestling card, full of life and vital.

“We weren’t doing anything special,” she said, quietly. “The children were with a friend for the night. After Mr. Terry was finished at the Coliseum we went to the Lincolnshire Hotel for a little beer. Jack Bailey asked us to go with him and Louise Hirschbloz to Seattle, just for the ride.

“It seemed all right, for the children were safe and we were just going around looking for something to do. I was sitting on my husband’s lap in the coupe when we started, but I was too tall and my head kept bumping the top of the car. So I asked the other girl to change places with me. She sat on Mr. Terry’s lap and I sat in the middle.

“I didn’t hear any siren; just those two shots. At first I did not know he was hit. I thought he and Louise just ducked when they heard the shots. They were both slumped over. When we got out of the car I saw blood streaming down his neck. I thought he was dead. The bullet just missed me. It grazed the side of my turban. The thick crepe folds must have saved me, for I could feel my hat move.”

Mrs. Terry unconsciously put her hand to the side of her head and then swiftly drew it away again.

“I thought he was dead at first. Then I saw him breathing. We got back into the car and I held him. I put my hand over the wound as we rode back to the county hospital. Then I saw blood coming from his temple, and I knew the bullet had gone in the back of his head and come out the side. I don’t remember the ride back – not anything about it.”

Recalling the tragedy this morning, the widow of the wrestler said she could remember no details from the time the car stopped and her husband was put in it again, until she heard someone at the hospital say, “Is there anything we can do for you?” Then she learned the bullet had claimed the life of her husband.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do. The children are with my mother, Mrs. Mary Songer, at the Ducher apartments, now. They don’t know about it yet.” The youngest of the three children, Billy Boy, 2, was weeping, nevertheless, as though some instinct had warned him of trouble, as it does babies sometimes. But Bettejean, 4, and Marycathern, 5, were playing gaily.

Out at the Terry home, 5042 South M Street, the green blinds were drawn at the windows. A morning paper, unopened, hid the headlines which heralded the death of the head of the house. Two cats played with one another. Silence hung over the place.

The Terrys were married at Vancouver, Wash., in 1927. The Tacoma wrestler was born in Hinckley, Utah.

“The children will miss him so when they find out,” Mrs. Terry said. “They all loved him, but especially the oldest one. Marycathern just followed him around, adoring him. She thought he was wonderful. She’s only five, but she knew the telephone number where he works and often called him up to ask how he was and tell him what she’d been doing.”

In addition to his athletic activities, Terry had been employed as a watchman in a Tacoma brewery.

“Just before the wrestling match last night she went to the phone and called him up and asked him when he’d be home,” the mother said.

“And “Terrible” Terry, as he used to be known in wrestling circles, answered, “Soon, dear.”

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