February Newsletter 2024

“Too Much Else to Do”

A Visit with Terry Prickett

By Dale Dauten

Usually when you hear a story of a life-changing moment, the sort where you are profoundly changed and you never see the world the same way again, it involves some near-death experience – you know, being mauled by a bear or having a heart attack while hang-gliding. For Terry Prickett, it was something that doesn’t sound so monumental: a vacation to visit his daughter. What?


Here’s what transpired: More than a decade ago now, Terry and his wife, Shari, (photo below) decided to go visit daughter Caitlyn… not an easy trip.

That’s because Caitlyn was living in Beirut, where she and her husband were working with Syrian refugees. This was during the Syrian war and something like a million and a half Syrians had fled to Lebanon. (Lebanon is a country with a population not much bigger than that of Maricopa County, so picture a 1.5 million people, or three Mesas worth, suddenly arriving in Maricopa County… but in a place without the resources.) Caitlyn was teaching English in a refugee camp and Terry and Shari were happy to spend time during their visit helping out in the camps (photos below).

But that trip changed something for the Pricketts, as Terry explained: “I loved what I did, banking, and Shari loved what she did, teaching, but our passions changed during that trip. Most of my life had been in Crawford County, Iowa, but my daughter exposed me to another world. So, when I turned 60, I sat with Shari and we decided that there was too much else to do to keep working.”


That decision came not long after another eye-opening event. A few months after going to Beirut, Terry was talking with a friend, a farmer who was a pilot and who would occasionally fly medical supplies to a fledging orphanage in Haiti. When Terry expressed curiosity about those trips, the friend said, “You want to come? Let’s go tomorrow.” They did, and Terry says, “I lost my heart to those kids.”


Below is a photo of the plane they’ve used to ferry supplies. And then photos of those heart-stealing kids in Haiti.

Terry began taking regular visits and now estimates that he’s made 50 trips to Haiti. The little orphanage that held about a dozen kids on that first trip but is now around a hundred. They also started a school and Terry helped construct a series of dormitories known as “safety houses.” The houses are built out of old shipping containers and got the “safety” name after surviving Hurricane Matthew that destroyed many surrounding structures.


Describing what it’s like to visit rural Haiti, Terry said, “I’d bring people down and we’d head out to the countryside in a van, and everyone would be talking, laughing, singing and then they’d realize that we’re driving past people who are starving, who haven’t eaten in days.” He added, “In some areas, we were the only White people they’d ever seen.”


(Photo: The kids got so excited to see Terry they hoisted him into the air and then set him down).

If you’re wondering if you might want to volunteer to join in on a trip to help at the orphanage, sadly, it couldn’t be anytime soon. Terry tells us that Haiti has gotten too dangerous for their typical visits: “Port-au-Prince is 80 percent controlled by warring gangs. You can’t go in now. I’ve gone recently but we land on a grass strip in the mountains.” But, if you want to help the effort, you can donate at UCIHaiti.org.



We also wanted to learn more about Terry and his life before retirement. He was the son of a pastor of non-denominational churches, and the family moved ten times before he was thirteen. He went to high school in Burwell, Nebraska and then moved to Norfolk, NE to jump into working. That’s where his life took its first big change, when he met Shari, a first meeting right out of a romcom movie. Terry sets the scene:


“I was something of what we used to call a ‘gear head,’ someone who loved cars. Her car broke down right in front of my house. I got it running.”


Asked for specifics, Terry thinks it was an Opel, but does clearly remember the mechanical problem: “It was moisture in the distributor cap. Not a big deal.”


But it turned into a big deal because it became a relationship that changed the trajectory of Terry’s life. “Shari was in college, and I hadn’t gone,” Terry recalled. “So, I’d be complaining about how I couldn’t get the jobs I really wanted because they required a college degree. Shari told me to ‘quit whining and get enrolled.’ I told her that I was too old, that I’d be 28 by the time I graduated. She said, ‘You’re going to be 28 anyway – wouldn’t you rather be 28 with a degree?’” Terry saw the logic of that, got his degree, and then into a management training program with a bank.


Asked how the couple came to have a home at The Resort, Terry said, “Shari is from Baltimore and wanted to live near the water. So, when we retired, we bought a place on Storm Lake in the town of Lakeside, Iowa. Our next store neighbor there is Mike Berkland, who has a place in The Resort, and we came to visit him in Arizona.” If you’re reading this, then you know what happened next: they wanted to have a place of their own to come back to.


Lastly, let’s end where we began, with the Pricketts’ daughter, Caitlyn. (That’s her with her kids in the photo below; however, she just added another, a little girl born a premie at 1 lb 8 oz, but now up to around 12 lbs.) Caitlyn is still doing good works, having made a series of visits to West Bank of Jerusalem, but is now back living in Iowa. Then, to round things out, the final photos are of the Pricketts son and family, and (B&W photo) their younger daughter and family, for a total of ten grandkids.


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