Obituary For Terry Ann Ivesdal Smythe Terry Ann Smythe would tell you she lived a great life…it wasn’t long enough, but she certainly squeezed as much living as she could into every day. Born on May 5, 1957 in Framingham, MA to Unni and Trygve Ivesdal, Terry spent her early childhood in MI but spent her formative years in MA developing her athletic skills: swimming, playing tennis and basketball and playing her drums. After graduating from high school in Glocester, Rhode Island Terry headed down to the University of Central Florida ostensibly to play tennis and basketball. Her life took on a whole new unexpected direction. The crew coach strongly encouraged her to try rowing which her tennis coach supported. The rest is history. Terry loved to row. It was her passion. She attended two Olympic trials, raced at the elite level and suffered setbacks along the way. Those setbacks only served to strengthen her conviction to fight harder for whatever it was she was trying to achieve. She was a serious contender in the US rowing trials prior to the 1980 boycott of the Olympic Games. Terry met her husband Phil Smythe while rowing for the College Boat Club at the University of Pennsylvania. They married in 1980 and moved to Trondheim, Norway. Phil worked as a physical therapist and Terry as a fitness expert. A year and a half later they moved to Tampa, FL where their daughter Heidi Smythe was born in 1985. Soon after Heidi was born, they moved to Fair Haven, VT. Continuing her love of sport, Terry coached women’s lacrosse at Castleton University and boys and girls tennis at Fair Haven Union High School. She did her Senior Master’s Rowing Competitions with her rowing pal, Olympic Gold Medalist Gail Helfer. Despite the idyllic lifestyle they enjoyed, one more move was in their future. For Terry, moving to Houghton, MI was like moving “home”. Having a dual American/Norwegian citizenship, Terry always loved the outdoors. Michigan provided easy access to cross country skiing and snow shoeing while spending free time in the summer mountain biking, cycling, running, playing tennis, boating and hiking. However, her athletic achievements didn’t define her. Talk to any member of her family or any of the multitudes of friends she has made throughout her life and they will all tell you about Terry’s love of people. She has a huge heart and a charismatic personality that people were attracted to. While managing the Court House Fitness Center she was introduced to and worked with Mark Lambert, the director of UP Kids. It was through this program she met her adopted daughter Stephanie.
In 2008, Terry started her own business,Ucanrow2, teaching master rowing instruction classes and raising public awareness of indoor rowing. She wanted to bring rowing to everyone, young and old, able bodied and disabled, mentally challenged and emotionally challenged. Through her sincere care and concern for others and her efforts to get people moving, she has had an impact on everyone she has met, and earned her a term on the Michigan Governor’s Council of Physical Fitness, Health and Sports from 2009-2011. Terry would probably say that one of her most rewarding experiences in Houghton (aside from starting her own business) was starting the Michigan Tech Crew Team. Being a rowing network insider, she was able to obtain boats for her crew and a trailer to haul the boats to races. As an active member of the close-knit Houghton community she appealed to her contacts to help locate a dock and space to put the dock, a coach boat, and created a cross fit-type of fitness center in her own home where her team could do their dry land training in the winter. A special thank you to the Kurtz family and Lorenzetti family for letting the rowing club use their land. The end of this 2018 season marked her 25th year as the Tech crew coach. November 2013 Terry was diagnosed with Mucosal Melanoma. She was given a life expectancy of 6 months to 1 year after her first surgery. The gauntlet was thrown and Terry was not going to accept this. A new clinical trial opened up at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. under the amazing Dr. Svetomir Markovic. Through Dr. Markovic’s tireless fight for Terry, she was able to survive for 5 years with the disease. She has always been a fighter, never giving up and always striving to achieve the goals she sets for herself. Once again Terry’s charismatic personality made her a favorite among all medical personnel who tended to her. She never had a bad word to say about anyone and had the patience of a saint when dealing with all the time spent waiting in Emergency Room’s and hospital rooms, waiting to be admitted, waiting to be discharged, waiting for test results and waiting to feel better. And then in 2014, Heidi Smythe and Bowie Retzlaff had a daughter, Terry’s first grandchild, Eliot Ann Retzlaff. What a joyful addition to her life. At this point she was now commuting to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for chemo therapy, immunotherapy and radiation treatments. Terry, aka “Grammy”, could stop on her way to and from Mayo to spend time with her Elie. Emerik Lou Retzlaff was born in 2016. Elie and Emie were the lights of Terry’s life. She loved them more than anything. They were her “girls with curls”.
Throughout her battle with cancer Terry worked on raising funds for cancer research and raising melanoma awareness. Her annual event, Meters for Melanoma, under the auspices of the Midwest Melanoma Partnership, provides a vehicle to do both. It is held every year on May 5, Terry’s birthday. Terry succumbed to mucosal melanoma on November 27, 2018. She was 61 years young. In addition to her husband Phil, daughter Heidi, (Bowie Retzlaff) of De Pere, WI, granddaughters; Elie and Emie and daughter Stephanie,(Lana Seiler), of Delray Beach, FL , Terry leaves behind her mother Unni Ivesdal of Oscoda, MI, her sister Heidi, (Nils), Vitso of Ypsilanti, MI, nephew Eirik,(Vanessa),Vitso of Ypsilanti, MI and their children; Ragnar, Aksel and Gunnar, niece Elise, (Stuart), Lauer of Tuscon, AZ and their children; Olivia and Logan and nephew Thomas Vitso of Ypsilanti, MI. She was predeceased by her father Trygve Ivesdal and stepfather Dag Johannessen. In true Terry style and in keeping with her desire to help others she donated her body to the Mayo Clinic as part of the Anatomical Education Program. The void Terry’s death leaves in the lives of her family and friends will not soon be filled. She will be missed by many but she leaves a great legacy of raising melanoma awareness and bringing people together. It was Terry’s wish that in lieu of flowers a memorial gift be designated and sent to the Melanoma Research Center in her name at: Dr. Svetomir Markovic, Mayo Clinic Melanoma Cancer Research at Mayo Clinic. Department of Development, 200 First St. SW, Rochester, MN 55905 Or: call 1-855-852-8129 and speak directly to a gift processing associate. Or: Donate directly to the website,https://philanthropy.mayoclinic.org/donatemc Please make sure that when you donate in Terry Smythe’s name that it goes directly to Melanoma Cancer Research Center under Dr. Svetomir Markovic