Terrence John Becker

July 15, 1952 ~ March 21, 2018 (age 65)

Terrence John Becker, born in Eureka, SD to Jacob and Gertrud Becker July 15, 1952, died peacefully at Solvay Hospice House in Duluth, on March 21, 2018.

Everywhere he went, Terry made lifelong friends.  He pursued Asian studies and literature at St. Olaf College, graduating in 1974. He spent a transformative semester in Thailand, studying Buddhism and forging strong bonds.

In 1976 he met Sharon Jean Nylund through mutual friends. Soon they were committed to each other and bought a home. For an otherwise romantic guy, his proposal was uncharacteristic:  “Well, I suppose we might as well get married, eh?”  The invitations were sent with Christmas cards and the simple ceremony was conducted in their home, attended by many friends and two cats.

Terry continued his education at St. Olaf, earning a BSN, and began his nursing career in the neonatal intensive care unit of the U of M Hospital, where he rode helicopters with high-risk moms, cradled the tiniest of people, and started a grief support program for parents.

His experience in the NICU led him to the Minneapolis School of Anesthesia, and he became a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) in 1982.  He signed a two-year contract to practice anesthesia in Duluth, and loved both his profession and his adopted city so much that he continued practicing there until 2014.

Along the way, Terry and Jean were blessed with three children, Matthew, Margaret, and Maxwell, who were their father’s greatest pride and joy.

Terry joined the Army Reserve, then switched to the Air National Guard, 148th Medical Group.  His deployments took him to nearby places like the UP, where he taught winter survival, but also faraway places like Guam, Germany, and, during Operation Enduring Freedom in the early 2000s, the Middle East. After 25 years of service, he retired as a Lt. Col.

The son and grandson of Masons, Terry joined Euclid Masonic Lodge in 1984.  He loved the idea of a brotherhood whose ideals include charity and “making good men better.”  As always, Terry went all in.  He became involved in the Grand Lodge, Scottish Rite, York Rite, and plenty of other branches. He reveled in Masonry’s archaic language, rich pageantry, and deep friendships.

An astute observer recently noted that Terry was always “trying to ride two horses,” not able to exclude any possibilities.  His unachieved goals included studying dead languages, learning to play the piano, opening a salon where people would gather to talk philosophy, and watching all the DVDs of Great Courses he collected. He also collected second-hand dogs, old coffeemakers, fine cigars and liquors, woodworking tools, books, records, and model fire trucks. And, of course, friends.

He loved all kinds of music and respected all religions. Infamous for his honking laugh, he was full of puns, pranks, and word play. He was a man of grand gestures, an optimist, a volunteer, a tree-planter, a believer and questioner, a poet, a farmer, a marathoner, a storyteller, an incurable romantic, and a beloved family man.

Terry was preceded in death by his parents and sister Carol. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Jean; children Matthew (Catherine), Chicago; Margaret (Travis), Duluth; and Maxwell (Maria), Minneapolis; and three grandchildren, Jacob, Pearl, and Theodore. He is also survived by his brothers Stephen (Janet), Hot Springs, SD; and Randy, Mazomanie, WI. 

After his diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia, Terry received the gift of three more years of life through Randy’s donated stem cells, for which we are all deeply grateful. The family also wishes to thank Dr. Mark Litzow and the Mayo Clinic Blood & Marrow Transplant team.

A celebration of life will be held April 15 at the Duluth Masonic Center, 4 W. 2nd. St..  Family will receive friends from 1:00 pm until the 2:00 pm Masonic ceremony and military honors. In lieu of flowers, please direct memorials to Solvay Hospice House, MPR, or charity of your choice. Please donate blood and register with

Arrangements by Dougherty Funeral Home in Duluth.

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