unexpected loss: r.i.p. al terrell

I took this photo of Al Terrell this fall

I took this photo of Al Terrell this fall

I do not even really know how to begin this post.  I am so sad, I am in shock.  Al Terrell my friend who made the clean up of Ebenezer AME on Bacton Hill Road in Frazer possible has died quite suddenly.

I knew in November when we were getting ready for the special ceremony at Ebenezer that Al was not feeling well.  We talked about it.  When I saw him at the ceremony he was so happy it was happening but I saw this stillness about him . And I could tell he felt poorly and it bothered me.

Al at the ceremony this past fall right next to our soldier Joshua's grave

Al at the ceremony this past fall right next to our soldier Joshua’s grave

After the ceremony we swapped emails, text messages and one or two phone calls.  Christmas and beyond it was just text messages.  He still did not feel well and wasn’t sleeping.  At that point he made me promise to not give up on Ebenezer in case something was really wrong with him.  I promised.

And oddly he had been on my mind because a couple of people had asked me if I heard from him.

One of the things we last spoke of was his disappointment in the AME Church not responding to him further about what he wanted to see happen at Ebenezer.  I had a licensed structural engineer look at Ebenezer.  The long story short on that is the long walls are showing signs of bowing and need to be shored up to save what is left of the church ruin.  In order to do a more comprehensive engineering report, the walls would have to be shored up and the center of the ruin hand cleared of debris.  If properly stabilized, the church could be saved as a ruin, and possibly restored if money was no option.   But for that the AME Church as landowner would have to give permission for any of this.  They never replied to him. SHame on them for doing that to him. He never asked them for a cent.

We were also trying to get someone with special radar equipment into the graveyard to properly map the graves once and for all.  I won’t give up on that and I hope Dr. Watson at Immaculata will help me with that.

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Clean up this fall

I won’t give up on Ebenezer but I am so sad that this is the second friend I have made because of this sacred place who has gone home to God.  Maybe somewhere in heaven Al will meet up with Ann Christie and they will talk about Ebenezer.

Al and I became friends only in 2016.  He had contacted me initially  to tell me he would get Ebenezer cleaned up.  AT first I was like “yeah, ok” because I was so disappointed in mankind and AME church professionals and leaders in particular who had led me on a merry chase about saving and cleaning up Ebenezer for a few years at that point.

But Al just stayed in touch and slowly things began to happen.  Throughout the summer and into the fall of 2016, Al was often my first message in the morning or before I went to sleep about Ebenezer.

Al and I used to visit the same soldier before Ebenezer got too overgrown.  We shared Joshua Johnson.

Al had this quiet doing about him, he just persisted until things happened.  Every new grave uncovered, or progress made by the Willistown Scouts he texted me about. Al restored my faith in humankind.  Sounds kind of silly or even trite to my ears, but it is true. He was just a decent, nice, and caring man.  He had a deep faith about him.

Myself and the other ladies of Ebenezer as I call them will miss him terribly.  They do not make people with such honor and godliness and human kindness like Al anymore.

After Luke Phayre the Eagle Scout’s mom Kathy called me this afternoon it was like someone had punched me in the stomach.  Al was someone I knew such a short time. But he made an impact.  He mattered.

To Al Terrell’s widow and family, my deepest condolences.  Heaven truly has another angel.  Selfishly, I wished  heaven did not.  Al and I had clean up plans for the spring already.

Al Terrell with reporter Adam Farence of the Daily Local in November.

Al Terrell with reporter Adam Farence of the Daily Local in November.

Kathy Phayre and I would like to keep this going for Al Terrell.  There is the page on Facebook Save the Ruins and Cemetery of Ebenezer AME Church Frazer PA   @saveebenezeramefrazerpa – when winter turns to spring we will need volunteers.

Al Terrell you were one of a kind.  I feel blessed having known you even a short while. You were a good man.  Whenever I visit Joshua I will think of you. You will be missed. I will miss your text messages with photos of what was uncovered at Ebenezer and even your unabashed joy when people in the area just stopped by Ebenezer to pay their respects.

Everyone, I wish I could write more or be more eloquent.  I am just so truly sad at this moment.

Here is Al’s death notice and the service is this coming Saturday, January 21 at Saints Philip and James in Exton. The viewing starts at 9:30 am:

Al Terrell  May 2, 1945 – January 15, 2017 (Age 71)

 TERRELL Al, age 71, of Malvern and Cape May Point, NJ, died on January 15, 2017. Survived by his wife, Darryl (Waller); his children; Lana, Andrew (Jessica) and Joseph Terrell and his grandchildren; Ella and Sophia. Relatives and friends are invited to his Visitation on Saturday, 9:30-10:45 AM followed by his Funeral Mass at 11 AM at Sts. Philip and James Church, 723 E. Lincoln Highway, Exton, PA 19341. Interment Private. In lieu of flowers, contributions to Willistown Boy Scout Troop 78, 2 Mill Rd., Malvern, PA 19355 or Triangle Park, P.O. Box 74, Cape May Point, NJ 08212 would be appreciated.

 Here is a tribute that came in from Kimberly Boddy a friend of mine (and grand daughter of the late and beloved Chester County Artist, Lee Carter):

There are no words that can possible alleviate the shock and heartache that Mr. Terrell’s family, friends and associates are feeling at this moment in time. 

We know God has spoken and we are left to say Amen, while simultaneously asking ourselves, WHY. You are right Mr. Terrell was a special soul who touched the hearts of those who were blessed to meet him. I agree that we must carry one the Restoration of Ebenezer in honor of Mr. Terrell.

We can take solace in the fact that he did indeed honor the Civil War Colored Troops buried at Ebenezer in spite of the run around he received from the A.M.E Church, District and Local Leaders.

Mr. Terrell did not have historical amnesia or seek notoriety or financial gains. His only desire was to honored those that came before him in the most respectful way and even when he received no response, support or acknowledgement from the landowners he still honored those souls interred at Ebenezer. 

And here are the articles about Ebenezer:

Updated: OCTOBER 16, 2016 — 5:34 AM EDT

By Adam Farence, Daily Local News

POSTED: 11/19/16, 7:11 PM EST

EAST WHITELAND >> During a humble autumn afternoon, a small ceremony paid homage to a long since abandoned graveyard housing African-American Civil War veterans, and others whose names have been lost to time and erosion.

For Bruce Reason and Al Terrell, the sight of the cleaned up Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church cemetery on Saturday was a welcome one…

The person who came along and led the clean-up effort was Henderson High School sophomore Luke Phayre.

Phayre, a member of the Willistown Boy Scout Troop 78, had been looking for a project to complete so he could become an Eagle Scout.

And Terrell, himself a former assistant scoutmaster working on rejoining the troop, suggested to Phayre that he clean up the graveyard as his own son, Andrew did almost two decades earlier.

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3 thoughts on “unexpected loss: r.i.p. al terrell

  1. I am sorry for your loss, Carla. What a nice tribute. I’d like to give him a salute in SAVVY Main LIne and mention the campaign to save/clean up the historic church/graveyard. Can you send me photos? (will credit you, of course!)

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