William B. Terry (1921-2004) joined the U.S. Army Air Corps prior to the start of World War II, and was stationed at Hickham Field when he was awakened on December 7, 1941, by bombs exploding nearby. He grabbed his camera and ran to find the source of the sound. That was the beginning of his career as a field photographer. After the war, his training as a pilot, a mechanic and a photographer made him the perfect candidate to manage the University of California’s African Expedition.
Bill had a real ‘can do’ attitude about life. If there was a problem, he looked for creative solutions, and he usually found them. His attitude and approach to life made him very popular with some of the most powerful people associated with the expedition. Despite the fact that Bill had not graduated high school, these powerful individuals wrote him glowing letters of recommendation, which got him accepted at The Johns Hopkins University when the expedition was over. His plan was to become a doctor, but in the early 1950’s, his first-hand knowledge of the Middle East made him more valuable as a consultant than as a doctor.
He worked with Lowell Thomas on his Cinerama movie, Seven Wonders of the World, and later as a consultant in the burgeoning oil industry. Over the next 40 years, he made numerous trips to South America, Africa and the Middle East, and was well respected by heads of governments in many countries.
Gladys W. Terry, the daughter of a Norwegian lumber jack, lived in lumber camps in the forests of Southern Oregon as a girl. As if that weren’t enough training for her expedition years, when her father had vacation time, he would take the family ‘camping.’ From her earliest years, she learned how to live within one’s means, adapt quickly, and work efficiently.
In September 1941, she entered Pacific University, but when the war began, she decided to leave after a year and return home to work while attending business school. Later, she moved to San Francisco to work for the war effort. In her spare time, she took flying lessons. Her first job after the war was with Goodwin of California, where she met Bill Terry. Organized, resourceful, and independent, she was his perfect match.
Gladys wrote a journal during the expedition, making careful note of names, dates, locations, and events. Through the years, she managed to keep the journal safe, and the information it contains forms the basis of An African Expedition. She also became adept at photography, and her photographs have graced the pages of such publications as Colliers, National Geographic and Science Newsletter.
Lorraine Seeley Buell is the author of two books, If You Build It, They Will Come (Eckankar, 1992), a non-fiction about her experiences developing youth programs for her church; and Shipmates (Magic Image FilmBooks, 2000), which she co-authored with her father, Lewis E. Seeley, about his experiences aboard a World War II destroyer. She has also written numerous newspaper and magazine articles that appeared in publications such as The Chicago Tribune and E-Magazine. She took the Terry’s ‘raw material’ and organized it into a narrative by Bill Terry.