Terri Grzebielski

Terri Grzebielski photo

“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), oregon@dreamfactoryinc.org.

22 Responses to Terri Grzebielski

  1. Annette Larson PA-C says:

    Words cannot express the sorrow and sadness in my heart for the loss of my friend and colleague, Terri. She arrived at the University of North Dakota January, 1991 to begin her training and education as a physician assistant. I had the priviledge of teaching and advising her which also included travels to Washington to site visit her at the Farm Workers Clinic. Terri loved learning and working with people. After her graduation I asked if she would be willing to correct assignments of other PA students from afar. They appreciated her feedback and interest in them as individuals. Our paths crossed throughout the years – the last at a National PA Conference in Boston some years back. We attended educational sessions during the day and played in the city of Boston at night. I remember walking the red historical trail, eating lots of seafood and enjoying ourselves with other PA colleagues. At that time she told me about her group “The Hot Flashes”. Terrie and her family have been on my mind throughout this week. I am so sad you have loss your daughter, sister, wife and mother. It’s very hard to understand all the reasons for violence in our communities – and no one deserves to be hurt! My love and prayers go out to Terrie’s family and the people of Moscow as they grieve and heal from such a tragic event. God Bless.

    Annette Larson, PA-C
    University of North Dakota
    Grand Forks, ND

  2. Joanne Nolan says:

    My Prayers and thoughts are with the family and close friends. This is a great loss , no words can express all your pain but may God guide you in healing.

  3. Vicki Baker says:

    My heart goes out to you all and the community of Moscow where Terri’s absence will be felt so many. The world was a better place when she was here.

  4. Ralph Nielsen says:

    Terri will be sadly missed by many.

  5. Jessika Satori says:

    I will remember Terri for her kindness and laughter shown to me and to many others over the years. My thoughts are with her family, church family, medical family, music family and the wider community.

  6. Ellen McKenzie says:

    The whole community is deeply saddened by these events and the loss of Terri, David and Belinda. I am keeping you all in my prayers.

  7. Tawny Espy says:

    I am so sad she was such a good physician assistant she was my doctor in the past she sang awesome in the band’s I feel so bad for the family and the community this is a huge tragedy to the community to everyone we are all losing such a wonderful person my prayers go out to everyone God bless God be with you

  8. Whitney Stott says:

    Terri was such an incredible, fun and hilarious provider to work with! People loved simply being around her. I was always touched by how much she truly cared for each of her patients as well as taking a personal interest in my life. She will be deeply missed. My thoughts and prayers are with all of Terri’s loved ones at this difficult time!

  9. Kathy Dickerson says:

    The verse from the song O Holy Night, “His law is love and His gospel is peace,” might be re-written “Her law was love and Her gospel was peace.” Terri was kind, willing to listen, giving, and positive. The Palouse community lost a special gift but the memory of her smile and laughter will remain in our hearts.

  10. Tom & Jodi Garrett says:

    The shining light of Moscow has gone out; the stage and dance floor will never be the same. Our sincere condolences to Jerry and family. May you find some comfort in knowing what an impact she had on our lives and countless others.

  11. Debbie Goin says:

    Our family was treated by Terri for many years before we moved from the area. I know that she will be missed and prayers go out to her family.

  12. Laura Lisnik says:

    My heart and love are with you all.

  13. Mary Beth Lavelle says:

    Jerry, my thoughts, prayers and love go out to you and your family.

  14. Annie Coghlan says:

    I remember Terri so fondly from early years, working with her at Mid Valley Hospital in Omak. She frequently had us all laughing with stories of living off the grid and always curious about the next project. She was an amazing and compassionate nurse; a person so full of life – a welcoming spirit. My deepest condolences to family and friends.

  15. Jim Faddis says:

    I am deeply saddened by Terri’s untimely passing and will miss her 1000 watt smile. I knew her as a singer and musician and the last time I saw her was at the Bluewaters Bluegrass Festival a few years ago. She walked up, smiling as always, said hello and then said she had to get back to her seat to listen to some more music. I am sorry for the community of Moscow for this tragedy and wish peace to you all.

  16. Patti Hennigs says:

    So sorry for your loss, even though Terri and I lost contact after your family moved from Washington, she was very much respected and loved by many. I will always treasure the time I spent as her nurse, and our ffriendship. May her spirit always be alive with you and help heal the hurt you feel. She truly loved life, family, to the fullest. We are all blessed to have known her. RIP Terri my friend.

  17. Joel says:

    I did not know Terri, but I knew Moscow well growing up there. From all the tributes I’ve seen to her in the past week, she was obviously an extraordinarily benevolent, generous and talented soul. I am very saddened and sorry for her family’s and the community’s tragic loss.

  18. Peggy Gerlach (formerly Finken) says:

    Terri and I attended the University of Nebraska College of Nursing and graduated together in 1977. We had a great time studying together and going out to dance. I have always thought of her when hearing Dancing Queen by ABBA. I remember her wedding to Jerry and watched them dance together and it was wonderful. Jerry I know you and Terri had the exact life she had envisioned and am shocked and saddened by her death. I am sending thoughts and prayers to you and your children and to her Omaha family as well. She was one of the most vibrant women I have ever known. Peggy Gerlach, Omaha NE

  19. Keely Emerine-Mix and Jeff Mix says:

    Our hearts ache for your family after the tragic loss of your wife and mother. Please know that you’ve all been in our prayers and that our deepest hope would be that you are comforted by memories of this remarkable woman and that the Spirit of peace would fill all of your hearts.

  20. Sarah Dickerson says:

    I don’t have words adequate for happened, but Terri’s life and my memories of her reverberate from my hometown of Moscow all the way to where I live now in Texas. I will always have fond and loving memories of the Grzebielski’s and getting ready in their house for all of Shinai and my dance performances, rehearsals, classes, and school dances. Shinai, I am that much more saddened that we were not able to connect while you were here. You are all daily in my thoughts. Rest in peace and power, Terri.

  21. Mark A Patterson PA/C says:

    I have know Terri since her time in Tonasket WA.as an RN, and later as a PA. Her skills were excellent in both fields. I’ll always remember her as upbeat,enthusiastic, beaming, smiling, cheerful, and a very caring provider. Such a tragic, senseless loss, to her family, friends and the medical community. I know she will be missed,but more importantly remembered by all those whose life she touched.


  22. Susan Seaman says:

    Terri and I became acquainted when she was a PA at Moscow Family Medicine. I was drawn to her warmth and dynamic energy. I enjoyed seeing her performing with “The Hot Flashes” and dancing with Jerry.
    On the Sister Cities trip to Nicaragua in 2009, I was happy that Terri and I were assigned to be “roomies”. We became friends on that trip, discovering that we had much in common: both born in Omaha; both having lived in the “boonies” for about the same length of time (we lived on a homestead north of Priest River for 17 years); both having moved to Moscow at about the same time; both having 3 children, all of whom were born in the same years. Wow! We had a great time together, experiencing the daily events and debriefing each night. She had packed very conservatively, so was washing her things daily, often experiencing that they would not dry in the humid air, and coping. She enjoyed the comfy beds with the mosquito netting, outdoor showers, kayaking on the river, and getting up early to see the howler monkeys and walk on the canopy bridge. She visited (in Spanish) with the local people, took gifts to them, loved on them – and they loved her.
    After that trip, whenever we saw each other, we recalled our shared experience.
    Since my husband and I have been teaching abroad most of the past 4 years, I did not see her often. The last time we visited was Christmastime of 2013. She was in WalMart picking up some things, beaming about going to Texas to visit her kids.
    When I learned of her passing, I was overwhelmed with sorrow for her and her family and the tragic loss on many levels to our community. Terri was memorably intelligent, musical, kind, compassionate, interested in others, guided by her principles, and a conduit of love and joy. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to know her. Terri and each of you will remain in my thoughts and prayers.

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