Feb. 20, 1945 - Nov. 25, 2014
GIRDWOOD, Alaska – Longtime Girdwood resident Terry Onslow, age 69, passed away on Tuesday, November 25, 2014, at Providence Alaska Medical Center following a short, unexpected illness. A celebration of life will be held Thursday, Dec. 11, at 6:30 p.m. at Challenge Alaska in Girdwood. Please wear Hawaiian shirts in honor of Terry. A funeral Mass will be held in conjunction with regular Mass at 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14, at the Our Lady of the Snows Chapel, also in Girdwood. Father Leo Walsh will officiate at both services.
"Terry touched many people's lives and was loved by many for his strength of character, loyalty to friends, sense of humor, and willingness to stand up for what he believed was the right thing. The world shares our loss of a really good man. Terry was always larger than life and lived a very full and busy life … we miss him greatly," says his family.
Terry was born Feb. 20, 1945, in Missoula to Donald Raymond and Kathryn Smith Onslow. He studied anthropology at the University of Montana prior to beginning a varied and interesting career that included working as a logger, volunteer firefighter, skilled carpenter, ski patrolman (Stowe, Vermont, Bridger Bowl and Big Sky) and ending his Montana career as Big Sky Resort mountain manager. While at Bridger Bowl, he met the love of his life, Judith Jean Robertson, who he married in 1976 in a joint Catholic/Protestant ceremony at the Gallatin Canyon Soldier's Chapel.
Ultimately the skills from his early professions led to becoming an Avalanche Forecaster for the State of Alaska, based in Girdwood, where he moved his family – wife Judy and daughter Erin (born 1982) – in September 1983. He served the state of Alaska for more than 27 years, retiring in 2011, working countless hours including holidays and weekends to ensure that Alaska's highways remained safe from avalanches for travelers. His many achievements included his work on RWIS (Road Weather Information System), which allows for improved public safety and road condition information, and ongoing improvements to avalanche safety along the Seward Highway avalanche corridors.
Terry was active in the Catholic Church in Girdwood and instrumental in the building of the Our Lady of the Snows Chapel including The Meadows Community Center, which was completed in 2005. Terry was also active in the avalanche community made up of international snow scientists and the Avalanche Artillery Users of North America community where he was an instructor.
Following his retirement from the state of Alaska in 2011, Terry devoted much of his time to his favorite pastimes: spending time with his family and boating in Prince William Sound aboard the Elena – shrimping, fishing, exploring and enjoying the company of fellow boaters. He also spent much of his time woodworking – a lifelong enjoyment, and creating wooden masterpieces on his lathe. He was active in the Alaska Woodturning Association and enjoyed introducing others to woodturning. Terry was active in the Girdwood community, and enjoyed spending time with friends he made over his 30-plus years of living in the area; he enjoyed cooking for community events and for his family. He also loved traveling, and in addition to his worldwide snow science-related travels, Terry enjoyed his visits to Tahiti, France, Russia, Hawaii, Argentina and more.
Terry is preceded in death by his mother and father. He is survived by his beloved wife of 38 years Judy Onslow of Girdwood, Alaska, daughter Erin Pennings (Klark) and grandson Emmett Pennings of Anchorage, brother Tim Onslow of Missoula, son from a previous marriage Erik Dix of Nieafu, Tonga, cousins in Alaska, Montana and Texas, as well as many, many friends who he considered family. His ashes will be scattered in Prince William Sound during the summer 2015 boating season.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Terry Onslow Memorial Fund: PO Box 744 Girdwood, AK 99587 or Wells Fargo #6422725892, which will be used to complete the exterior rockwork on the Our Lady of the Snows Chapel he so loved.