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2017 Wall of Fame Inductee -- Mr. Terry Cummins



Terry Cummins

Terry was born in the hills of Pendleton County, Kentucky in the house his great-grandfather built after fighting in the Civil War. He grew up on this family farm, part of which has been in the family for nearly 150 years. Pendleton County will always be his home where he attended the Short Creek Baptist Church, Goforth Elementary School and graduated from Morgan High School in 1952. Then after receiving a B. A. degree from Transylvania University, he served two years in the U.S. Navy.

Terry then began a career in education, serving two years as an English teacher and coach followed by 31 years in administration primarily as a high school principal in Kentucky and southern Indiana. He served as principal of Pendleton County High School from 1962 until 1970, and then became principal of Jeffersonville High School in Indiana. He also received a M. A. from the University of Kentucky and taught college courses for a time.

After retirement from public education, Terry began a second life subscribing to the creed that, “Life is an adventure, or nothing.” His adventures include running marathons, climbing mountains, trekking through many parts of the world, and his compulsion—writing. He ran his first marathon at age 63, climbed his first mountain on his 64th birthday, and then summited a 20,000-foot mountain two days later.

Terry published his first of over 800 articles after age 66, and currently writes a weekly article for two newspapers. He published his first of six books at age 69, with a seventh underway. Terry traveled through Siberia, and trekked above the base camp at both the north and south face of Mt. Everest and above base camp at K2. He lived with the people in India for a month, climbed mountains in the Andes in South America and has trekked through many parts of this beautiful world.

His first book, Feed My Sheep, is about growing up on the family farm with his grandfather, who taught him how to care for all life around them. It was during the Great Depression in the 1930s, and a way of life as it had been for centuries. He joined the modern world at the end of World War II when electricity brightened their home. And then he plunged into the cyberworld 50 years later when computers changed his life again.

His second book, How Did Back Then Become Right Now? is a collection of his early articles and essays. His only work of fiction, Briny’s Gift, is based on people he grew up and worked with on the farm. It tells the story of how a boy from Appalachia taught his father how to read. Retirement is a Blast: Once You Light the Fuse, is an account of some of his exciting adventures previously mentioned.

After Terry met Anne Frye Caudill in 2004, he was compelled to tell her fascinating story in, The Caudills of the Cumberlands: Anne’s Story of Life With Harry. Terry’s sixth book, My Life In A Schoolhouse: From a Barnyard To A Schoolyard, is about his career as a high school principal, which is the most exciting, but nerve-wracking job in the known world.  He is currently working on his seventh book, Life is Worth Living—If. As he perceives it, life is worth living if one does not deny the many blessings that the gift of life affords.

Terry’s 61-year marriage to Vera, a math teacher, was an adventure like no other. She passed in March 2016, leaving him with many wonderful and loving memories. Each day now their four children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren provide a daily dose of pride along with frequent and unexpected surprises.

After conquering open heart surgery and cancer toward the end of his eighty-second year, there’s other challenges and exciting adventures waiting out there. Why not jump right in?  And when the roll is called up yonder, what an adventure that will be.


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