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Terri Tucker

April 04, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back -- through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others -- at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Terri Lynn Tucker, who died March 24 at the age of 39. Her obituary was published in The Herald-Mail on March 26.

When Kevin Tucker was a senior at Clear Spring High School, he said he was vaguely aware of a little freshman named Terri Shenebeck.

Turns out, Terri's interest in her handsome classmate was a bit stronger. So when they both showed up at a WQCM radio station dance at North Hagerstown High School in 1986, Terri took a long walk across the gym floor and struck up a conversation.

"We danced some that night," Kevin recalled.

Later, a friend got them together again and they began to date.

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The couple grew closer as Terri completed her high school education. Then in 1987, she enlisted in the U.S. Air Force after a recruiter came to the school and opened her eyes to the advantages of working toward a nursing career through the military.

"She ended up in the Air Guard, working out of the 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg, W.Va.," Kevin said.

The couple married in May 1988 and then three years later, Operation Desert Storm began and Terri's unit was called up, Kevin said.

"A flight nurse, she went to Germany for seven months, flying in and out of Kuwait picking up wounded military personnel," he said.

Though he was concerned about his young wife while she was in a war zone, Kevin said Terri was very athletic, capable and strong, though she stood just 5 feet 5 inches tall.

Kevin was a college student studying business at Frostburg (Md.) University and living in Big Pool while Terri was performing her overseas military service.

When Terri returned home, she began her journey toward a degree in sociology from Frostburg, which she earned in 1997.

The couple's son, Nathan, was born in 1994 and their daughter, Alison, came along five years later. In civilian life, Terri was employed as an inventory specialist at Lowe's.

Settling into family life, Terri spent as much time with her husband and children as she could, especially in the outdoors.

"Our vacations were always planned around the water, hiking areas or any nature location," Kevin said.

An amateur artist, Terri's preferred medium was colored pencils, though she explored clay sculpting in recent years.

Terri found her religious touchstone later in her life and it gave her tremendous strength.

"She touched a lot of people and even pulled me back into it," Kevin said.

They attended Valley Grace Brethren Church in Hagerstown.

The first inkling that something wasn't right came after Terri began complaining about fatigue. A bone marrow biopsy in December 2007 confirmed that Terri had an aggressive form of leukemia.

To counteract the disease, Terri began an equally aggressive treatment regimen of chemotherapy and radiation in early and mid-2008 at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

"She also had a successful bone marrow transplant but still, the disease had progressed," Kevin said.

When it became apparent that the disease was not to be thwarted, Terri, just 39 years old, came home in December to be with her family.

Kevin said he and Terri never shielded the children from their mom's illness.

"They were aware of where things were headed but it has still been a shock," he said.

When Terri got the news that all that could be done had been done for her, she was sad for a few minutes. And then, Kevin said, she was right back to the business of living and loving her family.

"Terri had courage you couldn't describe," Kevin said. "We knew each other 23 years and there was not a minute I didn't enjoy it."

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