Terry D. Stenberg ’56

Terry D. Stenberg ’56 died on Sunday, July 5, 2020, in Camden, Maine.     

(The following notice was shared by President Rose on July 6, 2020)

To faculty and staff,

I write to inform the Bowdoin community that Bowdoin College overseer emeritus and member of the Class of 1956 Terry Douglas Stenberg died on Sunday, July 5, 2020, in Camden, Maine, four days after his eighty-sixth birthday. A longtime educator and a lifelong musician known for his perfect pitch and his celebration of Bowdoin in his own music, Terry spent his retirement years in Maine and remained an active member of the Bowdoin community. He was recognized by the College in 2005 as a winner of the Polar Bear Award for his many contributions to the life of the College.

Terry was born July 1, 1934, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of John William Stenberg and Harriette Dolliver Stenberg. He spent his youth in Milton, began playing piano at the age of four, later formed a quintet with other pre-teens, and graduated from Milton High School. He arrived at Bowdoin on an Alumni Fund scholarship.

A government major, with a minor in music, and member of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, Terry was a James Bowdoin Scholar and the recipient of a second Alumni Fund scholarship. He was vice president of his class. He won the Wooden Spoon award, given to the student who most exemplifies the spirit and character of Bowdoin. Members of the Bowdoin community who were fortunate enough to have known him will likely best remember Terry’s passion for music. He was a member of the Bowdoin Glee Club for all four years, serving as its president, and was a dedicated member of the Meddiebempsters, the College’s a cappela augmented double quartet.  He wrote vocal arrangements for the group and traveled with the Meddies on summer tours of US military bases in Europe. In his sophomore year he was also a member of the Emanons, a Bowdoin jazz quintet which recorded an album and performed on campus and at other colleges in New England.

He was also active in ROTC at Bowdoin, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army Signal Corps after graduation. Terry was stationed at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. He married Shirley Lindgren in October of 1956. He went on to take the first of many positions in education at the Peekskill Military Academy in New York, where he taught math and served as assistant commander. From Peekskill, he went on to New York Military Academy, where he was the head of the lower school. In 1960 he and Shirley and their growing family moved to Massachusetts, where he took on the position of director of admissions at Pine Manor Junior College. While working at Pine Manor, he began a master’s program in education at Boston University, earning that degree in 1970. He earned a Ph.D. in education at the University of Minnesota in 1976.

Terry continued to thrive in academic environments; his next move was to the Summit School in St. Paul, Minnesota, as headmaster in 1967. He held similar positions at the Hillsdale-Lotspeich School (1970–1974) and Seven Hills School (1974–1976) in Cincinnati and at the Hawken School in Cleveland. He was a member of many professional organizations, including National Association of Secondary School Principals and the Ohio Association of Independent Schools (where he served as secretary-treasurer and president).

Active in Bowdoin clubs in Boston and Cincinnati, Terry joined the Alumni Council in 1971.  He was the Cincinnati area chairman for Bowdoin’s 175th Anniversary Campaign program and in 1983 was named an overseer of the College.

In 1991, Terry and Shirley relocated to Maine and made Cushing their permanent home, leaving temporarily when Terry accepted a three-year appointment in 1993 as the director of the American Collegiate Institute in Izmir, Turkey. He stepped down from Bowdoin’s Board of Overseers at that time. The couple’s time in Turkey inspired Shirley to pursue her interests in art history. Upon their return, Shirley plunged deeper into that interest, becoming a dedicated docent to the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland. Meanwhile Terry, while continuing his work in education as a consultant, devoted much of his free time to his long-standing interest in music. While Terry struggled with a debilitating, auto-immune condition, he worked on music for instrumental ensembles. In October 2012 the Portland Symphony Orchestra performed and recorded his medley, “Remembering Tilly: Five Songs of Bowdoin College,” inspired by Professor Frederic E.T. “Tilly” Tillotson. For Terry it was a true labor of love. In recent years, the Bowdoin College Concert Band has also performed and recorded several of Terry’s other arrangements: Forward the White, Bowdoin BeataThree Mountain Songs, A Jazz Medley; and Songs of World War One Soldiers.

He was predeceased by a sister, Susanne Stenberg Scull, a brother, John Tiletson Stenberg, and a son-in-law, Lawrence Berk. Terry is survived by his beloved wife of sixty-three years, Shirley Stenberg of Cushing, Maine; son Douglas G. Stenberg ’79 and his wife, Kari Nordhoy Stenberg, of Robesonia, Pennsylvania; daughter Gretchen Ford Stenberg Dismukes and her husband, Walter W. Dismukes, Jr., of Harpswell, Maine; daughter Sarah Osier Stenberg Berk of Bearsville, New York; and three grandsons: Jonah S. Berk of Joliet, Illinois, Adam O. Berk of Portland, Oregon, and Isaac D. Berk of Bearsville, New York.

A service is planned at a later date at the First Congregational Church of Camden, 55 Elm Street, Camden, Maine.

At the family’s request, gifts in Terry’s memory may be made to the Meddiebempsters Scholarship Fund, Office of Stewardship Programs, 4175 College Station, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine 04011.

Terry’s love for the College was unbounded and infectious. Julianne and I were privileged to come to know Terry and Shirley, and so fortunate to spend time with them on their many visits to campus. We join Terry’s family, his classmates, trustees, board members emeriti, and generations of Meddiebempsters in singing his praises for his devoted service to the College and a life dedicated to promoting education.



1 Comment Terry D. Stenberg ’56

  1. David Sherman

    My condolences to the wonderful Stenberg family for the loss of great musician, and alum. His status as one of the most revered in the pantheon of great Meddiebempsters will remain unchallenged. I had the good fortune to serve with Terry on a few committees, and he was always a serious leader , but who always let a sparkle of his humor and whimsy shine through. He was thoroughly devoted to Bowdoin, and went as far as to write an orchestral medley of some of the songs in the Bowdoin songbook, and worked hard to get it recorded by the Portland Symphony so he could share it with us all.


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