“This will be our reply… to make music more intensely, more beautifully,
more devotedly than ever before.”
– Leonard Bernstein
Terri Grzebielski passed away Saturday, January 10, 2015, a few days after her 61st birthday. A celebration of Terri’s life will be held Saturday, January 17 at 3:30 p.m. in the ballroom of the Bruce M. Pitman Center (formerly the SUB) at the University Idaho.
Terri was a Moscow resident for 20 years, and she shone a bright light here. She was deeply connected to this community as a medical provider and as a leader in the local music scene. She had a wide and generous social embrace, and touched countless people with her kindness, her dazzling smile, her laughter, her energy and her intelligence – and especially with her deep love of musical performance.
Terri was born in Omaha, Nebraska to Bill and Ellen McCaig: she was the oldest sister in a family of seven children. She graduated in 1972 from Notre Dame Academy, where she was a homecoming queen. She received her nursing degree from the University of Nebraska in Omaha.
Terry met Jerry Grzebielski when she was nineteen at a student retreat while he was living at the Jesuit Friendship House in Omaha. They both loved to dance, and began their courtship in the days of disco fever. They were married in 1979, and moved soon after that to the Okanagan Highlands of Washington state, where Jerry owned 40 acres of undeveloped land on top of a mountain.
Terri was a devoted and resourceful wife and mother. They started their family while living “off the grid,” and they built their home together. Their oldest daughter, Kasi, came along in 1983; their son, Kane, in 1985, and youngest daughter Shinai followed in 1987. Kasi’s and Shinai’s favorite memories from the Okanagan days include the big birthday parties that Terri hosted, and that were attended by lots of kids from the surrounding community. They remember eating fresh produce from the garden, and chasing pigs, goats and ducks around the homestead.
During this time Terri worked as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at North Valley Hospital in Tonaskat. In the early 1990s, she earned her physician’s assistant credential from the University of North Dakota. After that she worked at Okanagan Farm Workers Clinic.
In 1995, ready for a lifestyle with more modern conveniences, the Grzebielskis moved to Moscow, Idaho. They were a close family, and continued to enjoy a variety of outdoor adventures, including hiking, camping, whitewater rafting and kayaking. Kasi and Shinai have especially fond memories of family camping trips to Glacier Park and river trips on the Grand Ronde.
Terri was a dedicated and highly respected physician’s assistant here on the Palouse. She worked for Moscow Family Medicine, University of Idaho Student Health, Washington State University Student Health, Moscow QuickCare, and Palouse Medical. One of her highest values was that of good health and well-being, and she especially loved taking care of young adults.
After her love for Jerry, her kids, and her other family and friends, Terri’s greatest passion was music. Music was the wellspring of Terri’s energy and strength; it was her religion and her soul’s delight. Completely self-taught, she had a rich, textured alto voice, and she was a master of subtle and supportive harmonies. She loved beautiful, over-the-top vintage costumes almost as much as she loved to sing. Known as “Terri G” to the Palouse music scene, she sang or played guitar with too many local bands and musicians to count, including the Hot Flashes, Spare Time, Crazy Chester, the Gypsy Dawgs, Lonesome Divas, Dan Maher, Soulstice, Igor and the Swamp Donkeys, Simba and the Exceptional Africans, Henry C. and the Willards, and Serendipity.
Terri was committed to building community through music, and to developing local talent. She was a tireless promoter of musical events and of bringing other musicians together in new and interesting ways. She gave many shy persons the strength to get up and perform in public for the first time. She organized a number of local fundraisers, including two successful Bob Dylan tribute concerts and a “Divas’ Night Out” extravaganza that showcased local women singers to raise money for the historic Kenworthy Theater. Terri often served as impresario, stage manager, arranger, cheerleader, and costume adviser – sometimes all for the same event. She performed at the Latah County Fair, the Moscow Renaissance Fair, and Rendezvous in the Park, for which she also served on the board of directors. She contributed often and memorably to the music program at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse, where she and the rest of her family were long-time members.
Throughout their life together, Terri and Jerry continued to dance whenever and wherever possible. They frequented the local venues into the wee hours, and traveled on weekends to attend concerts by their favorite regional bands. When they performed their graceful, effortless Midwestern jitterbug, they were perfectly matched. They lit up the floor, and they could bring the rest of the crowd to a standstill with the beauty of their dancing.
Terri was preceded in death by her father, Bill McCaig. She is survived by her husband, Jerry; her mother, Ellen McCaig; her children, Kasi (Nick Barker), Kane, and Shinai (Curtis McIbben, fiancé); her sisters and brothers-in-law, Sherri Jensen, Jerri Buck (James), and Merri Wees (Steve); her brothers and sister-in-law, Dan McCaig (Rhonda), Dave McCaig, and Don McCaig.
Words cannot express how profoundly Terri will be missed by her family, her patients, her intricate network of friends and musical co-conspirators, and all the other recipients of her warmth. But Terri wove her spirit and sparkle through the fabric of her life in a way that will never fade, and the sound of her voice will remain with us.
Terri’s family expresses their sincerest gratitude for the outpouring of love and support extended to them during this extremely difficult time. Condolences may be sent to Short’s Funeral Chapel, 1225 East 6th St., Moscow, ID 83843 or left at www.shortsfuneralchapel.com .
Donations may be made in memoriam to Terri to Latah Community Health (CHAS), 719 S. Main St., Moscow, ID (208-882-5587), or the Dream Factory of Oregon, P.O. Box 96041, Portland, OR 97296 (503-292-7718), email@example.com.