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January 6th 1929
October 30th 2012
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Benjamin Franklin said, perhaps he said this as part of a eulogy at a memorial service for a friend:
“We are spirits. That bodies should be lent us, while they can afford us pleasure, assist us in acquiring knowledge, or in doing good to our fellow creatures, is a kind and benevolent act of God.
When they become unfit for these purposes and afford us pain instead of pleasure, instead of an aid become an encumbrance, and answer none of the intentions for which they were given, it is equally kind and benevolent, that a way is provided by which we may get rid of them.
Death is that way.”
Eulogy for Sal Terrusa by his son, Mitch
I think everybody who is loved, dies too soon.
Sal Terrusa, son of Roy and Mamie Terrusa, brother of Louis had many successes in his life. He was an athlete and was co-captain of his high school football team and loved playing basketball and baseball although he confessed that there was just too much waiting around in baseball for him.
Recently, he shared with me that in a high school football playoff game, he once intercepted a pass and ran it back 72 yards for a game-winning touchdown. I hadn't heard the story before because he so rarely spoke of his successes.
He was a veteran of the Korean War and during that conflict spent his time in Japan organizing athletics for about 2000 children. When he finished college he became a football coach and taught math, history and driver's ed.
While coaching and sports was his first love, he also had a fantastic voice. His rare voice, a spinto tenor, was memorable. A few days ago I had a chance to hear a recording from the wedding video at Sal and Jo’s wedding where a record he made was played. Although there is a lot of background noise, I think you can get a sense of his incredible voice and I’d like to share that with you because those who got to know him in only the last 30 or so years probably have no idea of this side of Dad’s talent.
Dad was a businessman starting the incredible Secret Forest Summer Camp for boys and girls. As campers, we were entertained with continuous activities: horseback riding, swimming, riflery, archery, camp fires, singing, arts and crafts. Every day was an adventure and we never had a better time. Later he created a top driving school in California named Teen Auto Club spanning 21 years. Teen Auto Club was a driving school with high quality standards that was dedicated to traffic safety and instilling excellence in driving in all it’s students. He did all this while remaining a full time teacher in the Los Angeles School District. I was an instructor at TAC and was recently contacted by students who still remember their classes with us from 1985. Their fondness of their experiences became a standing joke for them. They would always kid with each other about organizing a Teen Auto Club reunion.
Dad had the ability to not only dream but to make those dreams a reality. He had the tenacity and attention to detail so necessary to carry out his vision. Much of the success of his businesses was due to his ability to lead and instill his vision in those who worked with him.
Dad had 4 children, two with his first wife Marilyn, David and me (Mitchell) and considered his step-children, Julie and Leslie from his marriage to his second wife, Beverly, his children as well.
Dad's third wife, Jo was his soul mate. She was indeed the charm for him. They were meant for each other and lived very happily together through tough times and great times. They traveled and enjoyed each other for nearly 30 years.
Dad's last years were devoted to political activism as he loved his country and wanted to see it become even greater. To that end, he wrote two books: "Patriot Papers: One Citizen's Passion for a Greater America" and "A Common Sense Platform" both of which can be found on his website: ACommonSensePla
Dad was blessed with great health for all but his last year, had many friends who loved him dearly, had many life successes and the love, loyalty and respect of his family.
Many of you know he was a legal resident of Texas. Oh excuse me. I think its some kind of law that you have to say, “The Great State of Texas.” Dad told me to say in my eulogy of him, that he enjoyed being a Texan because, when he wears his cowboy boots he’s 6 feet tall, and when he wears his 10 gallon hat which he can only get away with in Texas, he’s 6 foot 4! He liked the idea of being 6 foot 4.
Of course to me, he was always 10 feet tall.
Dad is off to his next great adventure now. Maybe he is throwing a football with his dad Roy and brother Louis while his mother Mamie beams her sweet smile at her family now reunited. Maybe his sister Tina and his mother Mamie are stirring a great pot of spaghetti sauce and meatballs. I’m sure there are many others there -- so many others he loved and who loved him at that great reunion on the other side of life. I think he should be singing too. Heaven is just the right venue for his brilliant voice.
I’ll bet he’s flashing his famous P.E. smile often now that he is free from the body that no longer could contain his spirit.
I have great hope that, when each of us has our turn to join that great reunion, he will be there with open arms and love in his eyes to welcome us into eternity.
Sal and I had a very "intimate" relationship from our first meeting...so close as to be able to gaze into his beautiful and cheery eyes, feel his breath upon me and touch his smiling lips- for you see, I had the good fortune of being his Dentist/Dental Hygienist.
I loved it when I saw Sal's name on my schedule for I knew I was in for some fun conversation, an inspirational and uplifting visit and him leaving me with an optimistic and good outlook for the rest of the day. Simply said, "he was the best!"
Through the years, we became good buddies and he also became one of my most supportive and complimentary patrons of my acting. He and Jo were the first ones on my list to let know what theatre project I was performing in and when they were in town they never missed a show. I would come out after the curtain fell and be bestowed with bear hugs first followed by insightful comments and positive compliments. In short, I couldn't have asked for better fans.
Sal had such a zest for life! He was one of those special human beings that touched others souls with so much love, encouragement and attention. He always made you feel important and unique and that you could accomplish anything. One couldn't help but feel lavished upon.
He will be sorely missed. I will forever carry in my heart that twinkle in his eye and that mischievous grin from ear to ear and that laugh that belonged only to Sal Terrusa.
I am sorry that I won't be able to attend the Memorial service with family and loved ones on Thursday as I am out of town but am confident that he and his life will be celebrated with both heartfelt tears and laughter. Please know that I will be there in "sprit" and will always feel blessed to have had the warm and wonderful Sal touch my life!
My best wishes to the family for the quick passage of time to heal the loss and for many fond memories to replace the hurt.
With love at this reminiscent time,
Angel Moon Yip
I will always remember Sal as a sweet and passionate person. I loved to listen to his interesting perspective on life. I feel lucky to have known him. My thoughts and prayers to Jo and the entire family. With much love, Angel.
There are so many memories of happiness throughout my childhood from my grandpa and my grandma. I will always be grateful. I already miss my grandpa's bear hugs and huge smile. His practical look at life and his from-the-heart advice will always be with me. My grandpa is definitely someone I have looked up to and have learned so much from. Thank you Grandpa Sal for everything you have been to me and everything you have done. I love you.
Born in 1929 at the start of the Great Depression and now, during the Great Recession of 2012 my dad, Sal Terrusa passed away in his sleep, October 30 at 6:45 AM. No matter what age; a person who is loved always dies too soon.
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