Terry Wynia


The Terry Wynia Story

As interviewed by Russ Rehm

“We All Got Along”

Class of ‘64, do you have any idea how great we are?  I didn’t.  Until I just got off the phone with Terry Wynia, my pulse racing, my mind in a whirl!  Wow, I thought, now that is an amazing human being!  Terry was calling from the Oregon Coast, and he had hungry guests waiting to go to supper, but graciously, he had time to talk. . . to me.  I immediately felt important!  Someone special.

The first sentence was funny,  I mean really clever.  Droll, whimsical humor, filled with multi-layered quickness.  Now I’m a pretty smart guy ― graduated valedictorian United States Merchant Marine Academy, Class of 1968 ― but Terry Wynia had me on the ropes!  

Along with being self-effacing and humble.  Extremely likable.  For example, he says (not an exact quote):  “I worked for other companies for awhile, and then formed our own company.  When I retired, we had 40 or 50 hotels and 700 employees in half a dozen states.”  So then I retort, “So you had a good life?”  Whereupon, “Whimsical Wynia” fires back, “I had an awesome life!  It far exceeded my expectations!”  I laughed, trying to quickly scribble down what he said, so I could get the next punch line.

For example, his Mom and Dad tried to buy the Flamingo Mobil Park, where I lived at the foot of the new bridge.  I didn’t know that.  They had sold their grocery store in Spokane, and moved to Pasco, where Terry entered the 7th grade.  Instead of buying the Flamingo, they purchased the Sahara Motel, and the popular Scimitar Restaurant.  So Terry quips, “My favorite game as a kid was Monopoly, because the person who ends up with the most hotels wins!”  I laughed, and keep scribbling.

The problem was the tiny apartment behind the front desk isn’t big enough for the whole family, so his parents buy a 16’ camp trailer where Terry lives all thru junior and senior high school.  Wonder why you were never invited over to his house?  Now you know.  In a sense, we were “trailer trash buddies” because my parents put me out in our tiny front yard in a camp  trailer so they could watch TV while I studied.  And now you know why you were never invited over to my house!

Terry worked at the Clover Leaf Lanes across the highway, while rolling strikes on the bowling team.  Ah, there is that all important word:  WORK.  To this day I love to work.  I tell people, to quote the line in the movie:  “When I work, I feel God’s pleasure.”

So try to follow my logic; I’m going to move quickly.  Years later, after leaving a Doctoral program, Terry picked up a Master of Science degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management and was teaching at the community college and University level. Just for fun, he uses Pasco High School as an example for his students. He tells them, “We All Got Along!”  Did you know you were an example to people getting their Degrees?  I didn’t know that! 

What does Terry mean, “We All Got Along?”  I think he means we were all very different, and yet we had this common bond of serious intent; we knew that if we were going to get someplace in life, we were going to have to work for it!  Nothing was going to be just handed to us.  We were going to have to work for it.  So we got along; we silently cheered each other on: We Were The Bulldogs!  

That never quite clicked in my mind until Terry said it on the phone.  Add smart to hard work and you’ve got success.  We were the leading generation of the Baby Boomers (people born from 1946 to 1964).  We lived in the best place, at the best time, in all human history.  I’ll say it again:  Add smart to hard work and you’ve got success.  

My birthday is September 20th.  Do the math.  Nine months.  Celebrate the New Year, come home, get a good night’s sleep and create a baby.  The Bulldog Boomers are born!

So Terry the Traitor, goes across the river and marries a Kennewick cheerleader named Jean.  The name on her sweater reads “Jeanie”, but after 58 years of marriage and four kids, they just call her “Saint Jean.”  So nine months out of the year, retired Terry and his amazing wife, live in a beautiful place called St. George, Utah, where it’s dry and warm.  So I jokingly say, “You live in Saint George with Saint Jean!”

But he’s popping one-liners on me about two-to-one, because their first three houses were trailer houses (now called manufactured homes).  “We moved every 6 months,” he drolls, “Because it takes the bill collectors that long to find you.”  They lived in 12 states and 14 cities before their oldest daughter turned 12!  It’s called hard work.  Our family song, he goes on, is Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again”. . . ‘like a band of gypsies, we go down the highway; we’re the best of friends, the world keeps turning our way.”  Never mind, the song wasn’t written back then, but it’s a great story!  The other three kids were/are boys.

So life is a party.  Three months in Spokane cheering on the Gonzaga basketball team, as 25-year season ticket holders, with 25 people for Christmas.  You know, grandkids and two great-grandkids, and a bunch of grand puppies!  About 30 people with T&J on their 50th Anniversary Cruise.  The kids?  They’re all out doing their own thing, but then Terry adds, our daughter and her husband bought our hotel company, and so now we’re a 4th Generation Company!  Spoken proudly, and rightly so!

It just goes on and on.  For example, Terry brings up one of our Class Reunions, at which he and I are talking with Ron Rhoads about his flying career in the Marines and private company jet.  I kind of vaguely remember this.  As I remember it, I went out to the bathroom, but Terry goes out and gets his pilot’s license and takes up flying!  

What an experience!  Terry Wynia is an amazing person!  But I think what is most amazing for me, is how in just a few sentences he installed into me a new found pride in being apart of you guys, The Pasco High School Class of 1964!  The Bulldogs!  As Professor Terry so well says it, “We All Got Along.”  And we still do!