Jim Terrett

Jim Terrett

From Massachusetts, A Real American Hero

  • By: Edward Bauchiero
When I grow up I want to be just like my hero-and I'm 47 years old. Jim Terrett, a veteran of the Pacific Theater during World War II, lives in Westfield, Massachusetts, and is younger in spirit at age 83 than most men in the dawn of adulthood.

He has taught thousands of children and adults to tie flies. Jim has hosted fly-tying classes, seminars and demonstrations not only for his Trout Unlimited chapter but also for schools, camps, non-profit organizations and even corporations. Gentle in manner, with an authentic interest and concern for his students, Jim has introduced many anglers, including this author, into the world of fly-tying, fly-fishing and, most importantly, into an understanding of the environment that surrounds both. (Among his students have been four future TU chapter presidents.) All of his work has been as an unpaid volunteer.

Jim has been a TU member for nearly three decades, and helped organize the Pioneer Valley Chapter of TU, where he served as both an elected board member and officer. During his tenure Jim coordinated many conservation construction projects, TU fundraisers, TU membership drives and fly-tying classes.

Whenever his TU chapter sounded a call for volunteers to clean up a river, this senior gentleman's hand rose before any other. When a volunteer is needed to attend a hearing on watershed issues, or assist in a local river study, or teach youngsters about fishing, fly-tying and conservation, Jim is there. Despite suffering complications from diabetes last year that have left him confined at home most days, he still managed to attend his chapter's fly-fishing class this past winter to visit and oversee his protégés. Never reluctant to put his convictions about conservation into action, Jim inspires those around him to follow suit. Always present to lend assistance, Jim's good nature and reassuring presence have never faltered even during sharp philosophical disagreements that have arisen at TU board meetings.

Last year Jim's diabetes led to an amputation-but even then he did he slow down like most of us would. In true Yankee spirit, Jim assessed his predicament and got creative. He called his TU chapter president and requested a copy of the 500-member chapter roster. Why? Because each month a certain percentage of TU chapter memberships expire and Jim figured that he'd take it upon himself to telephone each of these individuals from his home and talk to them. The result was an instant increase in membership retention. Nothing, not even confinement to his home, could ever stop Jim Terrett from his passion to educate others and protect our environment.

As I write this, Jim is scheduled to undergo major surgery for another amputation. Those of us lucky enough to know him are concerned, yet also confident, that Jim will soon be championing for our sport and natural resources once again. If any man deserves the title of a "fly-fishing hero," it's a no-quit, no-holds-barred, never flinching octogenarian named Jim Terrett.

That's why, when I grow up, I want to be just like him.

Edward Bauchiero has donated his payment for this article to Pioneer Valley TU's Student Scholarship Fund.

Would you like to publish an article about your own fly-fishing hero? Send your manuscript-no longer than the one above-along with a couple of good color slides or prints to Fly Rod&Reel Magazine, Ford Presents: River Keepers, PO Box 370, Camden, ME 04843. If we use it in this space, we'll pay you $200; otherwise, we'll do our best to publish it online at www.flyrodreel.com, with your byline.