Wilmette trustee lauded for joy in life
Updated: March 8, 2013 6:06AM
WILMETTE — Mari Terman never tackled anything – microbiology, raising a family, becoming a hospital administrator, serving the public or appreciating art, music or history – because it was something that had to be done, or because she wanted to conquer it.
She took on everything in her life because it gave her joy to do so, her husband, David Terman said.
“She had no ambition that she had to do this or be that. She’d look at something and say ‘That looks interesting – I’ll do it.’”
Mrs. Terman, 77, a long time village activist, League of Women Voters member and Village trustee from 2005 to 2011, died Jan. 16 following a lengthy battle with melanoma.
At her Jan. 20 funeral service, Village President Chris Canning remembered, “Mari took great joy in new experiences, in solving problems and seeking to achieve excellence in everything she did.”
He lauded her for the hard work she put in as a trustee – which he told listeners she always thought of as ‘fun’ – and said he was always certain board challenges were solved if she gave a decision her stamp of approval “by declaring that it was ‘an elegant solution.’”
Her husband said Mrs. Terman had another ability priceless in effective public servants; pragmatism. Despite having decidedly progressive views (he remembered her shock upon moving to Wilmette and seeing “Nixon” buttons on fellow shoppers), “when it came to her involvement in the community she did not hold ideology tightly.
“She was practical. She worked with people to solve problems. And people liked her.”
The former Mari DeCosta was born in 1935 to a prominent Hyde Park, Chicago, family; grandfather Benjamin Bacharach helped Clarence Darrow in his defense of Leopold and Loeb. Living in Hyde Park nurtured her life-long love of the Oriental Institute and archaeology.
She attended Radcliffe College, graduating with degrees in biology and fine arts, then worked as a microbiologist. She and Terman, who first met in school, were married in 1959. After raising their three children, she returned to school in 1980, earning an MBA in hospital administration from Northwestern University. She spent 20 years as an administrator at what is now Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, retiring as head of the departments of admitting and utilization review in 2003.
Mrs. Terman and her husband moved to Wilmette in 1968. She became active in the League of Women Voters, from which her municipal interests stemmed, he said.
She served on the village’s board of health from 1980-1990, and on its senior resources commission from 1995-2001, with stints as chair on both. After her second term as trustee, Canning appointed her to Wilmette’s board of fire and police commissioners, a position she held until last summer.
Daughter Anne Wedner, now a Chicago doctor, remembered her mother in her eulogy as a “tall, strong, lean and swashbuckling” natural leader who loved her family, giving them loving care and complete independence.
“Someone said she was larger than life,” her husband said. “She was life. She was always beautiful, she always stood so tall. She was my princess.”
In addition to her husband and daughter, Mrs. Terman is survived by sons Eric, a Chicago doctor, and Mark, a police captain in Kansas City, Mo. She is also survived by her brother John DeCosta, sister Louise Wides, and six grandchildren. She was predeceased by one sister, Catherine Burstein.
Services were held at Congregation Sukkat Shalom in Wilmette. Donations in Mrs. Terman’s memory can be made to the Oriental Institute of Chicago.