If you've ever turned to our web site for trucking news, you're familiar with the exceptional reporting of Terry Nguyen. Hired just out of the Univ. of Connecticut almost four years ago, Terry combined his solid journalism training with an abundance of curiosity, enthusiasm and intelligence, and he quickly developed a pitch-perfect sense for finding news that anyone associated with the trucking industry wanted and needed. In short order, his daily email newsletter summarizing the industry's most important developments became a “must read” for a broad audience that included people running fleets, truck marketers and suppliers, vehicle engineers, consultants and even industry analysts and investors.
In early June while on a short vacation, Terry died in a tragic accident when he went for an afternoon swim and was caught in a riptide. He was 27.
For those of us who knew him personally, the shock of his sudden death has begun to recede, replaced by a deep sense of loss that will not. The same openness to the world that made Terry such a fine journalist also made him one of those extraordinary people you encounter too infrequently in life.
Whether you worked closely with him, as those of here at Fleet Owner did, or knew him from the coffee room and office hallways as a co-worker, Terry somehow made an immediate and sincere connection with everyone who crossed his path. He was never content to simply return your hello. His enormous enthusiasm for everything that caught his attention and the joy he took in that enthusiasm just wouldn't allow it. With a generosity that was as completely natural as it is rare, Terry took every chance meeting as an opportunity to share that joy and to explore the world though another's perspective.
And as we've come to learn in the past month, that ability to form truly personal relationships was not limited to those of us who had first-hand experience with his smile and gentle but open manner.
A reporter is only as good as his sources, and Terry was a good reporter. Although Terry came to Fleet Owner straight from journalism school, he had the skills of a seasoned professional when it came to finding the exact right source for whatever story he was working on. Yet he never let the pressures of a deadline or a difficult topic blind him to the individual answering his questions.
We often overheard him at the end of an interview about some serious economic or regulatory issue switch gears without losing a beat to ask the person on the other end of the line about the weather or what things looked like in their town. It wasn't an attempt to be formally polite or to please a potentially valuable source. It was just Terry asking questions because he genuinely wanted to know more about someone he'd just encountered.
Within minutes of posting a news story on his accident, we began receiving messages and notes from people whose only contact with Terry had been those phone conversations. There were notes from government officials and from someone who'd been stranded in a truckstop during Hurricane Katrina, from economists, stock analysts, fleet executives and press contacts at companies of all types and sizes. And the notes, these reflexive messages from people Terry had only spoken to on the phone, all shared one thing in common — a genuine sense of loss. As the condolences continue to pour in from so many different people, the power of Terry's impulse to recognize the individual in everyone makes it clear to us just how much we have lost.
Our memories of Terry, because they are so warm and loving, make the death of this young, talented man painful to contemplate. Now, however, is the time to honor those memories by celebrating the joy he took from his family, friends, work and everything in his life. He was accomplished in many things, but his greatest accomplishment was that joy he shared with us all.