Obituary: George Terry Birch

George Terry Birch of Westport Island, Maine, formerly of Princeton passed away on July 26. He was 82.

Born in Trenton on September 20, 1932 to Eunice Terry Birch and Frank Birch, who predeceased him, Birch was a lifelong resident of Skillman and Princeton, having cared for his parents before retiring to Maine.

A graduate of the Lawrenceville School, in addition to his academic successes, he also enjoyed telling the story of how he jumped out of a window as an extra in the “Free Pancakes!” scene in the 1950 film, “The Happy Years,” a movie depicting life at Lawrenceville based on the writings of fellow Lawrentian Owen Johnson.

He majored in English at Duke University and later enlisted in the army during the Korean War using his artistic and writing skills to produce manuals that instructed pilots how to fly helicopters.

He later worked at Educational Testing Service for 18 years as a technical illustrator and concluded his career drawing detailed illustrations of the cold-fusion reactor at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, many of which were used for budgeting proposals in Washington, DC.
He built the home in which he raised his family in Skillman. He was a devoted husband and father, as well as a dedicated gardener and landscapist. He was active in the local community including Boy Scout Troop 46 of Blawenburg and the Nassau Presbyterian Church.

A lifelong artist, he held several galleries and exhibits throughout the 1970’s and taught art to the elderly in local retirement homes. He was also a volunteer mentor at the Mercer County Correctional Facility.

An avid fisherman and boater, he spent much time fishing and boating the waters around the Barnegat Bay before focusing most of his free time enjoying a lakeside woodlot in Vienna, Maine.

A constant reader, he was particularly fond of the writings of Thomas Wolfe, whose influence showed in his moving storytelling and the poetry that Terry wrote throughout his life.

Most recently, Birch was a deacon at the Mid-Coast Presbyterian Church in Topsham, Maine. He and his wife Madge served as ushers reliably every Sunday except Easter and the occasional snow cancellation.

He leaves behind his wife, Magdalene of Westport Island, Maine; his brother Wayne and his wife Beth of Cumberland Center, Maine; former wife Bettie Cotton of Wilmington, N.C.; four sons and seven grandchildren: Kevin and his wife Mary and their children, Cameron and Marissa of Skillman; Kyle and his partner Raymond Matthews of King of Prussia, Pa.; Keith and his wife Rachel and their children, Maxwell and Catherine of Havertown, Pa.; and Wayne and his wife Beth and their children Maclaine, Grayson, and Bryant of Fayetteville, N.C., as well as the countless friends whose lives he touched with his sensitivity and caring.

Funeral services were held on Friday, Aug. 7, at the Kimble Funeral Home in Princeton.

In September, the Mid-Coast Presbyterian Church will host a separate memorial service of worship songs and the traditional hymns that were Birch’s favorites.

Donations can be made in memory of Terry Birch to the Arthritis Foundation at

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