Remembering Mary Virginia Terry, a great friend of the University

November 02, 2022

Mary Virginia Terry, the one-of-a-kind, devoted philanthropist and dear friend of the University passed away in Jacksonville on Oct. 29 at the age of 103. Terry is the namesake for Jacksonville University’s Terry Concert Hall, as the arts were just one of the countless causes she and her late husband C. Herman Terry supported throughout their lives.

A dedicated member of the Jacksonville University Board of Trustees  from 1999 to 2005, then again from 2007 to 2009, Terry had as strong of an affinity toward Jacksonville University as it did to her. She received an honorary doctorate degree in Humane Letters from the University in 2003. 

“Mary Virginia was an absolute original in every way and we will miss her terribly,” President Tim Cost said. “She was charming and thoughtful, generous and funny, full of such spirit. We honor her memory, as we do with other greats in the history of this university, from Fran Kinne to Bob Shircliff to Betsy Lovett. The Terry name will always hold a place of high honor on our campus and we are grateful for her warm friendship and many contributions.” 

Carol Schircliff, Fran Kinne and Mary Virginia Terry

Terry’s generous contributions to the University allowed for a major renovation of Terry Concert Hall to include a new lobby, commissioned glass sculpture, expanded stage, finely tuned acoustics and premium lighting. The improvements to the space not only benefit Jacksonville University students, but also the area’s fine arts community, which utilizes the space she made possible.

Born and raised in Quitman, Georgia, she and her husband lived the majority of their lives in Jacksonville. After C. Herman’s passing in 1998, Mary Virginia continued the charitable work she began with her husband. 

The Terry name can be found across Jacksonville, a symbol of their generosity in countless corners of the community, especially in the arts, healthcare and education. Ascension St. Vincent’s, Mayo Clinic, Wolfson Children’s Hospital, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, the Jacksonville Symphony are among the organizations she’s graciously supported over the years. The Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside’s Mary Virginia Terry Cancer Center was named in her honor.

Stephanie Cost and Mary Virginia Terry

The Terry’s philanthropy stretched into their home state of Georgia, too. In 1991, in honor of their generosity to the University of Georgia, the business school was renamed the C. Herman and Mary Virginia Terry College of Business. 

A funeral service, followed by a reception, will be held on Friday, Nov. 4 at 11 a.m. at the Ortega United Methodist Church.


Katie Garwood

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