Terry L. Zuercher
Terry L. Zuercher, our beloved husband, father, Papa, coach, and friend, passed away peacefully Friday night, September 4, 2020 at The James Cancer Center at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus surrounded by his family. Terry’s brief battle with T-Cell Lymphoma was one he fought strongly to the very end. He was 73.
Terry was born April 22, 1947, in Millersburg, Ohio to the late Venus and Cora (Miller) Zuercher. He was a 1965 graduate of West Holmes High School and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in education in 1969 from Ashland University. He later earned a master’s in education from Bowling Green State University. Terry spent his entire teaching career in the Shelby City School district, starting at the middle school and later moving to the high school. He taught various courses over the years, all being social studies related, and retired in 2004. After retirement, Terry was a tutor at the Success Center at Pioneer Career and Technology Center for 6 years.
However, everyone who knew Terry knew his love and passion was running- not only the sport itself, but, more importantly, the runners, their families, and what it instilled in the individuals involved. Always, with his wife and family by his side, Terry deeply cared about the Shelby Whippet Cross Country and Track programs making them well respected all over the state of Ohio. Terry’s love for running became his family’s passion too.
As so eloquently stated by his honorary son, Nathan Phillips, “He took every new class of young men and didn’t just teach them how to compete but taught them how to live. He taught us all how to treat others, and how to have fun. He motivated all of us with a pat on the back, a “great job,” a “that’s what we needed,” or often in my case “I need two more” (runners) because there was often way more than two more people in front of me but that was a more realistically achievable goal than “I need fifty.” He set goals for all of us, and he was often more excited than we were when we reached them whether it was the guy running a sixteen-minute 5k or the guy running a twenty-one-minute 5k. This methodology of goal setting provided the roadmap for us to be successful in the rest of our lives and he did this for all of us. He also emphasized acting with class in all aspects of our lives because we did not just represent ourselves, we represented all past and future Shelby Cross Country team members with our actions. We were a family after all. Coach was always there to celebrate our accomplishments with an abundance of joy. He also was there to provide guidance, analysis, and perspective in those moments of chaos or when we messed up. He was always there to help you do the right thing, even if it might take a long discussion during a run to figure it out. He also was great for many a laugh over the years. I want to live in a world with more Coach Zuerchers.”
He excelled as a coach for over 57 seasons as a track and cross country coach at Shelby. In track, he spent his first seven years coaching junior high and the next 27 years as the distance coach at the high school. The Shelby track team won State in 2003 & 2004.
Coach Zuercher guided 3X All-Ohio Jason Mueller to an indoor National Championship in the 3200 and several outdoor 1600 and 3200 State Championships.
In Cross Country, Coach Z won 8 Districts, 2 Regionals and was second at State in 1985. Shelby was represented at State 15 times in his 23 seasons. His dual meet record was 182-41. His teams placed first or second in 59 invitationals. 1988 graduate Jim Loveless went on to become an All-American at Kent State.
It was these accomplishments, and many more, which led to Terry’s induction into the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches in 2009- an award he humbly accepted saying, “I believe you’ve made a mistake.” We all know there was no mistake. He was also inducted into the Holmes County Hall of Fame.
After his retirement, his son Chris filled his void and became the high school cross country and track coach. Terry never stopped coaching for one moment and remained faithful to assisting Chris and many athletes for the last 16 years, especially with he and Linda always having the tent and site ready at each meet before the athletes arrived.
But running was not Terry’s only hobby, although he also completed 14 marathons, including the Boston Marathon, numerous ½ marathons, and countless 5ks. He loved everything outside and in nature, from having the greenest thumb while tending to his plants and garden to fishing. There was no aspect of horticulture that he had not tried. He especially loved going to the family farm, spending time there and enjoying the beauty of God’s nature. He was not one to sit at home, but rather enjoyed traveling and was always willing to go anywhere. He also enjoyed car racing, having been a season pass holder at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course since 1992. Terry and Linda are members of Trinity United Methodist Church.
Terry had a hierarchy of whom he loved specifically in this order: his loving wife of 49 years and teammate through everything, Linda L. (Long) Zuercher whom he wed on June 26, 1971; his grandchildren: Beckett, Bennett, and Griffin: and then his sons and daughters-in-law, who got bumped a slightly lower, but not too far, after the grandkids arrived: Christopher and Sarah Zuercher and Michael and Rochelle Zuercher. His role as Papa is one that he shined in. He would do anything that the kids asked and has instilled so much knowledge on each of them.
Also surviving are: his brother and sister-in-law, Ted and Debra Zuercher, and their children, Julie (Chuck) Thornton, Ted (Mary Beth) Zuercher, and PJ Zuercher; his sister-in-law: Debra Long and her children: Ralph (Jackelyn) Long and Daniel (Jaclyn) Long; his aunt: Elsie Byler; and numerous great nieces and nephews, other relatives, and a host of runners and students. In addition to his parents, his brother-in-law, Ralph Long, and mother and father-in-law, Ralph and Joanne Long, preceded him in death.
Family and friends are welcome on Thursday, September 10, 2020 from 2-8 pm at the Penwell Turner Funeral Home, 168 West Main Street, Shelby. Visitors are asked to wear masks to the visitation.
It is with great honor and respect that Terry’s funeral will be held on Friday, September 11, 2020 at 10:30 am at the Shelby High School Track. Seating will be available in both the infield and bleachers. Those attending are encouraged to be comfortable- wear your running clothes and Shelby Whippet gear and bring a blanket to sit on. Rev. Paula Archdeacon, the Zuercher’s friend, will officiate the services.
When speaking to a friend once about how they would go on vacation and go for runs, the friend’s puzzled expression and question of “Why?!” was answered promptly and sincerely with, “Because we’re Zuercher’s…we run.” Therefore, in Terry’s honor, all those able are encouraged to do a final run with Terry at the conclusion of his funeral services from the track to Oakland Cemetery, his final resting place- a 1.5-mile run. Please come dressed to the funeral services in the appropriate running attire.
Memorial contributions in Terry’s honor may be made to Trinity Shining Lights Preschool or Shelby Whippet Athletic Boosters specifically for the Cross Country and Track Programs and left in care of the funeral home.
Appropriate ways to express sympathy for those unable to attend may be done by leaving an online condolence at www.PenwellTurner.com or by leaving a comment on Terry’s obituary on the funeral home’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/PenwellFuneral.