Terry Lynn Cairns, loving wife, mother and grandmother, went to be with her Lord on Feb. 3, 2020. Her smile that lit up the room will forever be missed, but the knowledge that she is in the presence of her Savior and has been reunited with her loved ones who have gone before her sustains those who deeply loved her and miss her dearly.
Terry was born Feb. 21, 1939, in Olympia, Washington, to Donald and Marion Magnuson. Her father, an investigative reporter for the Seattle Times, served as a member of the House of Representatives from Washington state from 1952-1962, which took Terry to Washington, D.C., where she met the love of her life, Robert (Bob) Bogardus Cairns, at age 15 as classmates at Western High School. Terry and Bob married three days after he graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point on June 10, 1961.
Terry served as a career Army wife for 29 years, living in Hawaii; Oklahoma; Wisconsin; Washington; Kansas; Virginia; Peru; New York; and Georgia while raising four children. While Bob was serving in Vietnam, she became a born again, Spirit-filled believer in the resurrected, living Lord, Jesus Christ. Ever after, she lived in tune with the Spirit of God and full of His love for others. Terry and Bob spent much of their married life welcoming and mentoring many people, including students passing through West Point; Virginia Military Institute; Washington & Lee University; Sweet Briar College; and Mary Baldwin University. Her family knew to always set extra places at their Thanksgiving dinner table for strangers their mom had met in church and in the community who had been invited to share in their celebration.
Terry could not be matched in Scrabble, as she inherited her father’s journalism vocabulary. She was a prolific writer of letters to the editor, often under a pen name that looked a lot like Bob’s. She loved her husband more than anyone else on earth. Her children, their friends, and all who passed through the Cairns’ home bear witness to the loving home she created where all were welcome. After Bob’s retirement from the Army and after time spent in Lexington, Virginia, at VMI and in true retirement on Orcas Island, Washington, Terry and Bob moved into the Army Residence Community (ARC) in San Antonio, Texas, in 2011 where they delighted in the fellowship of Bob’s sister Mimi and her husband David, many classmates and friends from their Army career, and new friends with whom they have been blessed. When Terry discovered that the residents in the ARC Memory Care unit did not have access to a church service, she purchased a keyboard, and she and Bob would faithfully present a prayer and music service each Sunday morning.
Terry is survived by her loving husband of nearly 60 years and her children and their spouses: Gerry and Stu Baker of Eastsound, Washington; Craig and Pam Cairns of Rochester, New York; Jill and Frank Coan of Tyler, Texas; and Chaplain (Cpt.) Chris and Elizabeth Cairns of Huntsville, Alabama. She was the grandmother to 17 beloved grandchildren and their spouses: Kelly and Aaron Keo; Stephen Baker; Matthew and Melissa Cairns; Megan and Jeff Tankel; Jack, Danny, Michael, Joe and Sam Cairns; Patrick, Grace, Ellie, Jack, and Kate Coan; and Anne Elise, Will and James Cairns. Other beloved family members include her sister, Mary Macapia, and her brother and sister-in-law, Joel and Jan Magnuson. Terry is predeceased by her parents, her stepmother June Magnuson, and her brothers Craig and Erik Magnuson.
Terry’s memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 7, 2020, in the ARC Chapel in San Antonio. A Celebration of Life gathering will be held on Orcas Island later this summer. She will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery at a date to be determined. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Terry’s name to Young Life’s Club Beyond, a Christian outreach to military teens at installations around the world. Condolences for the family may be left at www.colonialuniversal.com.