Terry was born in Webster on July 10, 1945, to Aubrey and Oriette French. He attended Webster High School and graduated in 1963, later attending Northern State University in Aberdeen where he lived on and off for many years. Terry was passionate about music and played guitar with several bands throughout his life, including touring with one across the US. 

The French family home always had a musical atmosphere with various instruments frequently scattered throughout the living room, such as a tuba, electric bass fiddle, grand piano, a beat-up trombone belonging to Aubrey, and even an accordion. Terry received his first guitar around 1960 when he was living in Washington, and Aubrey took him into downtown Seattle to buy a used, beautiful blonde wooden guitar that looked like it came straight out of the pre-rock band era. It was not electric, but Terry was extremely proud of it. He likely traded it in for an electric guitar once he got to Northern. 

The Johnsons, who owned a music store in Watertown, were longtime friends of the French family. Alvin Johnson's music store was a must-stop destination on shopping trips, allowing Terry to further develop his love of music. In his later years, Terry resided in Waubay, where he unfortunately suffered a stroke in the fall of 2021. He passed away on February 24, 2023, in Sioux Falls. 


2023Spirit of the Music Award