John Terry (Finding Aid)

John Terry

1966 -

Favorite Color: Blue

Favorite Food: Steak

Favorite Time of Year: Spring

Favorite Vacation Spot: Costa Rica

Interview Length: 146 minutes

Interview Date(s): August 13, 2007

Interview Location(s): Plano, Texas


John Terry was born on September 29, 1966 in Norfolk, Virginia to Deborah Kathleen Terry. He describes growing up with his mother and grandparents in the Liberty Park public housing project, a very close knit community. He met his father once when he was twelve years old . Instead, his grandfather was his father figure. Terry notes that church was not a big part of his life. He was a carefree child, with little interest in school or learning until his grandfather died when he was seven years old. After his grandfather passed, he had a new thirst for knowledge. He began asking questions all the time, reading books and encyclopedias, and he started to excel in school.

John Terry discusses his early educational experiences, his jobs, and his neighbors. Terry played sports and read comic books with his neighborhood friends. Occasionally, he fell behind on his school work and he was able to catch up. He thrived on competition and feels he benefited greatly from Norfolk's racially integrated schools. Terry did very well in school receiving good grades and winning awards. John Woodis, a neighbor, ran a candy shop out of his house and employed Terry when he lost his paper route during junior high. Woodis served as a father figure to Terry after his grandfather died. During high school, Terry played basketball on the school team but was left out of plays because he was from a different neighborhood than the other players. This upset Terry but it helped him learn how to have confidence in his abilities and to not let other people define him.

John Terry talks about his high school and college experiences. Terry struggled with the politics of his high school basketball team. He had some awkward times as a teenager, having ill-fitting clothing and being one of the only blacks in his advanced placement classes. His high school guidance counselor helped him get into college and win a scholarship to Old Dominion University. His younger brother, Melvin, felt a lot of pressure from the family to achieve at the same level as Terry. At Old Dominion University, Terry worked hard to achieve his goals. Hard work resulted in a job offer from NASA during his junior year of college. After graduation, Terry moved to Cleveland, Ohio to work at the NASA Lewis Research Center. In Cleveland, he experienced slightly different racial tensions and segregation to that of Norfolk, Virginia.

John Terry describes his research about signal processing and satellite communications. He combined his earlier research areas to create his graduate research on array signal processing, also known as MIMO technology, for his M.S. degree. After NASA, Terry worked at Texas Instruments which became Raytheon TI Systems. He then worked at the Nokia Corporation's Research Center in Dallas, Texas in January of 1999, just before receiving his Ph.D. degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology in May of 1999. He worked his way up and eventually became one of Nokia's principal scientists. He left Nokia to work at WiQuest Communications. Unfortunately, WiQuest tried to blame Terry for a costly mistake that was not his fault and he left the company to create his own wireless consulting firm, Terry Consulting.

John Terry talks about his consulting business and not wanting to fund it with venture capitalist funding. Some of Terry's role models include Fifty Cent, Queen Latifah, Will Smith, Bill Cosby, and Tyler Perry. He is concerned that the younger generations have a feeling of entitlement and do not value of hard work. Terry hopes his contributions to wireless technology will be his legacy. He would like to be remembered as someone who committed his heart and his soul to doing the right thing and helping people along the way.

36 Stories (See Ordered Story Set)