Bobby S. “Bob” Terry was born in Decatur, Alabama, to Leldon and Opal (Hill) Terry, both of Lawrence County, Alabama. In the early 1950s, the family migrated from a family cotton farm to the factories of Michigan. There, Terry made his profession of faith in First Southern Baptist Church of Ypsilanti, Michigan, and later felt called into vocational ministry.
Following that call, he enrolled at Mississippi College in Clinton from which he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. While a student, he served as minister of music at Port Gibson Baptist Church, Port Gibson, Mississippi, followed by two years as youth pastor at Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Jackson, Mississippi.
A football injury doomed dreams of being a college athlete so Terry began writing sports news for the college newspaper. Later he was hired as general news writer for the college’s public relations department.
While a student Terry met and married Eleanor Foster of Vicksburg, Mississippi, who earned both a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degree from Mississippi College.
Following graduation the couple moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where Terry studied at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary earning a Master of Divinity degree. While there he served as pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Owen County, Kentucky. He also worked as news director for the seminary for two years.
Following graduation, Terry prepared for graduate studies but an invitation from the Kentucky Baptist state paper redirected his life. Terry was asked to become associate editor of Western Recorder. He accepted the position hoping to learn about Southern Baptists from the inside before returning to the pastorate. Instead, he spent the rest of his ministry in state Baptist papers. However, he never lost his desire to work in the local church serving scores of interim pastorates throughout his active ministry.
At age 32, Terry became the youngest state paper editor in Southern Baptist life when he accepted the call of Missouri Baptists to become editor of Word & Way, a position he held for 20 years. Not only did he complete his doctoral studies during that time, his wife Eleanor completed her Ph.D. and accepted a position with William Jewell College, a Baptist college in the state.
The couple’s two children, Brent and Jean, both graduated from William Jewell.
In addition to editing the weekly publication, Terry coordinated a four-year missions partnership between Missouri Baptists and Baptists of Taiwan. He led three different statewide media evangelism campaigns as well as directed three statewide ballot issue campaigns opposing gambling and parochial aid. He also served as executive secretary of the Southern Baptist Press Association, now the Association of State Baptist Papers.
In 1995, Terry was unanimously elected editor of The Alabama Baptist. His immediate focus was on quality journalism and statewide coverage. The Alabama Baptist has been named best regional Christian newspaper in America 11 times since Terry became editor. More than 200 individual awards have been received by the paper and various staff members during his 22 years as editor.
To ensure statewide coverage, the paper set a goal of covering every association in the state at least twice each year, a goal it has consistently met.
Terry has been active beyond Alabama Baptists. He served on the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) Executive Committee for 10 years, national treasurer for Bread for the World for five years and president of Associated Church Press as well as 10 years as a board member. Locally he was president of Community Grief Support Service for five years and served two years as vice president of the Birmingham Rotary Club. He has served on local mental health boards and United Way committees. He is a graduate of Leadership Birmingham and Leadership Alabama.
In 1998, Terry’s wife Eleanor died from injuries suffered following an automobile accident while attending a BWA meeting in Durban, South Africa. Four years later, Terry married Patricia Creel Hart, a professor at Samford University in Birmingham and a former Southern Baptist Convention missionary serving in Venezuela. The family lives in Vestavia Hills.
The Terrys are members of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Homewood and continue to be active in numerous religious, civic and professional organizations.