Updated: Jun 22, 2020
Mountain Home – Terry Poynter, 79, went to be with the Lord on June 7, 2020. Terry grew up in Mountain Home, and after college and law school in Fayetteville he returned to make it his family’s home with his wife, Gay, in 1965. Terry and Gay raised their three children there. Terry was a lawyer, and a leader in his church, the community and in his profession.
Terry was born in Springfield, Missouri on June 27, 1940, to Lee and Dolores Poynter. His parents owned and operated the Curlee Hotel just off the square in Mountain Home. Young Terry’s chore was to make the beds at the hotel and, he said, to also do the laundry (although this story of Terry’s was never confirmed).
Dolores was the daughter of Mack Curlee, who was a real estate broker and was known in the Twin Lakes Area as the “Land Man” having bought and sold most of the properties around. And although Terry was an only child, he was very close to his maternal double first cousin Linda Poynter Freeman now of Birmingham, Alabama, who was always like a sister to him.
He grew up in Mountain Home as a pitcher, like his Dad, on baseball teams, and he was the center on the Bomber high school football team. He played football with one of his best friends Tommy Fowler, and the two remained good friends throughout Terry’s life. Terry was also smart, did well in school, and was always very determined. He was elected Student Body President in 1957-58, and was selected most likely to succeed. After graduating high school in 1958, he moved to Fayetteville to study at the University of Arkansas.
At the University, Terry met the love of his life his first year there. Gay Erwin, who was raised in Fort Smith, but was living with her family in Fayetteville when Terry arrived, was, and remains, very beautiful and she enjoyed art and writing. In fact, they both loved to write, and so Terry and Gay were both journalism majors. Although only a freshman, Terry had convinced his advisor to allow him to sign up for and attend a journalism class ordinarily reserved for sophomores. It was in this class that Terry and Gay met. Their first date was on her birthday on March 4, 1959. They married only a little more than two years later, on May 31, 1961 at the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Fayetteville. Their first child, Terry Lee, was born on July 14, 1962.
During his last few years in undergraduate school, and even through his law school days, Terry wrote sports for several publications. He worked for Orville Henry, the Sports Editor of the Arkansas Gazette, and Jack Keady of the Arkansas Democrat. Terry also served as the sports editor of the Arkansas Traveler student newspaper, and The Razorback (the U of A’s annual yearbook). Further, he was a stringer for the AP and UPI press services, and eventually, he became the sports editor of the Northwest Arkansas Times. Terry enjoyed traveling with the teams, getting to know all of the athletes, and writing about his beloved Razorbacks’ football and basketball teams. Of course, as his life continued past the U of A he loved telling his stories about Jerry Jones, Jimmy Johnson, Lance Alworth, Jerry Carlton, Frank Broyles, and many others. Later in life, the Razorback basketball team invited Terry to their 50th Year Reunion at the Catfish Hole in Fayetteville saying he wrote about them so much that he made them look good. Tommy Boyer and Jerry Carlton were very gracious in their invitation and inclusion of Terry in their 50th Year event, and for other Hog b-ball reunions in the following years.
In undergraduate school, Terry joined and became a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. Gay and Terry both graduated from the U of A with Gay receiving her degree in journalism, and Terry, who had previously changed his major, receiving a Business Administration degree. After his graduation, he was accepted to law school at the University.
While in law school at the U of A, Terry and his wife Gay moved into a little white house behind the hospital and next door to David Pryor and his wife Barbara. David, of course, eventually became Governor of Arkansas and was a long-time U. S. Senator for Arkansas. David and Terry loved telling stories, and they loved telling everyone how they shared a lawn mower while in law school. When he passed, Terry had a bucket list of things he wanted to do before he died, and one of those things was to have another good long conversation with David.
Driven as he was, Terry finished law school a semester early in December of 1964. Before he finished it though, Gay and Terry had their twins Debra Erwin and Scott Emory on September 20, 1964. The family of five was complete before Terry’s law school graduation as the second ranking student in his class and one time Editor in Chief of Law Review. The family then moved to Mountain Home early in 1965.
Terry began practicing law in his hometown, and his first law partner was the honored and respected Roy Danuser who lived to be 97 years old and practice law until the year before his death. Terry served as City Attorney, Deputy Prosecutor and as the Prosecutor for the five counties around Mountain Home. In his civil practice, he had wonderful law partners in Frank Huckaba, Van Gearhart, and David Osman. Terry was preceded in death by Frank, who passed less than a month before him on May 16, 2020. Terry and Frank were more than law partners, and indeed, were more like brothers. In the months before Frank’s passing, Terry and Frank shared many long phone conversations — sharing their stories as they always would.
Terry practiced law in Mountain Home for about 45 years. As a prosecutor, he tried many criminal cases in the seven counties he served, and helped lead, with Frank, the manhunt and capture of an escaped prisoner who committed one of the most heinous crimes in the history of Baxter County. He was a member of the Arkansas Supreme Court, Board of Legal Specialization, and served as President of the Baxter-Marion County Bar Association. He was active in the Arkansas Bar Association, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Social Security Administration, Worker’s Compensation Commission, Mountain Home City Council, and Mountain Home Planning Commission. Governor Bill Clinton appointed Terry as an Arkansas Bar Examiner, and also as Special Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court.
He coached youth baseball. He coached teams in Pee Wee, Little League, and Babe Ruth. Terry even coached the 15-year-old Babe Ruth All-Stars, which included Scotty and future son-in-law Ed St Clair.
Terry enjoyed playing golf, but more so he enjoyed sharing his time with friends and became a Saturday regular in basketball pick up games at the Norcross Ford Gymnasium. As the “Norcross Boys” and Terry got older, these pick up games became breakfasts and a matter of routine for Terry every Saturday morning. Even after Terry’s strokes and when he was unable to walk, Joe Mitchell and Randy would literally pick him up and carry him off to breakfast or lunch with them.
Terry was a Christian and a faithful servant of God. Terry was a lifelong member of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Mountain Home. Terry served as Chairman of Board, as an elder, a deacon, as a choir member, and as an adult Sunday school teacher for forty years there. Terry and Gay were youth pastors of their church hosting the youth in the basement of their home for over 20 years. The two also went on Lay Witness Missions several times a year with Terry eventually taking over Harold and Erma Davidson’s ministry as a Lay Witness Mission coordinator. Terry and Gay also joined the First Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) in Little Rock and McAllen, Texas.
He was a Rotarian, served on the Mountain Home School Board, and the Baxter Regional Hospital Foundation. He was in the first group of inductees to the Mountain Home Education Foundation’s Hall of Honor. A few years after that induction, Terry and Tommy and the rest of their 1957-1958 Bomber football team were honored as Mountain Home’s winningest football team winning a district championship with a season record of 11 wins and 1 loss.
Terry was preceded in death by his son, Lee. He is survived by his wife Gay, and Debby (Ed) and Scotty (Elizabeth); seven grandchildren Dustin, Brandon, Zach, Garrett, Nate, Ryan, and Emory. Gay currently lives in McAllen, Texas where Terry and Gay had made a home the past two years.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Christian Church of Mountain Home (2338 Hwy. 62 West, Mountain Home, AR 72653), or to the Mountain Home Education Foundation. A private family graveside service will be held, and a public memorial service will be announced at a later date.