A Sad Goodbye to Terry Maher, One of the Industry’s Good Guys
By Marilyn Bochicchio
Terry Maher, partner at Baird Holm LLP and general counsel for the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association, passed away Tuesday morning, at age 55. Terry was one of the really good guys in the industry. And, a darned smart lawyer, too. There are no words to describe how much his overpowering physical presence, good humor and deep knowledge will be missed.
For those of us who knew him well, his passing leaves a hole in our hearts that won’t mend anytime soon. Meetings, conferences, phone calls—just won’t be the same without Terry. And, yes, I know; I’m being selfish. A business relationship is one thing, but Terry lived for his family. He basked in the companionship of his children, often noting he was the “designated driver” following an evening’s celebration. His children, Steve, Caroline and Joe, probably would be mortified about how much I know about them and how Terry delighted in all their accomplishments. The pain his industry colleagues are feeling can’t come close to that of his family.
My last conversation with Terry was on Monday afternoon. He was delayed in the airport with Mary on their way back to Omaha from Tampa, where they’d celebrated with Steve, their oldest, who’d just received his PhD in biology. Terry was happy and proud, and he called to answer a few questions I’d posed for an article I’m working on. I’d sent the email only 15 minutes earlier, and there he was on the phone on his personal time because he’d do anything for a friend and he never tired of talking shop. That evening, I mentioned to my husband, who also has worked with Terry professionally, how helpful Terry had been. My husband responded, “Yeah, Terry’s always good about that.” From one lawyer about another, that’s high praise.
This is the third time I’ve been called on to write a tribute to a colleague in prepaid—Don Moehrke in 2007, Chris Reddish in 2011. I was close to Don and Chris and I miss them both still, but Terry’s death strikes hardest because our association was long and deep. I met Terry when he was working as outside counsel for WildCard, an early prepaid processor. Our paths crossed again during the formation of the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association. Because of his deep knowledge of the industry, Anil Aggarwal and I asked him to join the association as general counsel, where he was a wise and trusted counsellor. With Terry, you knew the gig was important, but the bigger issue was being of service. And, I shamelessly exploited his calling to service many times in nearly six and a half years at Paybefore. It was almost embarrassing because Terry was never on the clock for these conversations. One time, guilt about abusing our friendship drove me to suggest a retainer to cover all of the conversations with the Paybefore staff and me. He shook off my suggestion, saying, “We’re good.”
I was lucky. I got to have one last great, positive conversation with Terry. I think he ended the call with his trademark, “Yup. OK. See ya.” I won’t see Terry again, but I am going to remember him. And, if you keep a person alive in your memory, he isn’t gone. I really believe that. But, it’s going to take some time to get used to walking into a meeting or a conference room and not seeing Terry there.
If Terry were here right now, watching so many of us mourn him, he would, I think, be both touched and amused. He’d also be incredibly embarrassed by the emotion and the fuss. But, if I had one more chance to talk to him, I’d thank him for his generosity of spirit, kindness, steadfastness and friendship. And, I wouldn’t care how embarrassed he was.