Terry J. Karl, Esq., 67, of Colts Neck and Rumson, NJ passed away Saturday, March 25, surrounded by his family after a short battle with kidney cancer.
Terry was born in Rockville Centre, NY to Harry and Jeanne Karl, and was raised in Merrick, NY. Those who knew Terry would agree that he was the prime example of an all-around great guy. He was intelligent, unconditionally kind, and quick with a witty joke. He ~literally~ would give you the shirt off his back.
Terry graduated from SUNY Buffalo State in 1976 with a degree in sociology and criminal justice and began working as a social worker with troubled and unhoused adolescents at Melville House, a group home for boys. At the urging of his friends and colleagues, he took his passion for helping people one big step further and pursued a law degree from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas while continuing youth work with the Menninger Foundation from 1980 – 1982. He returned to Merrick to begin his law career and, in 1983, he joined the law firm where he later became partner, Russo, Karl, Widmaier, & Cordano, located in Hauppauge, NY. He combined his experience in social work and his knowledge of the law to provide a helping hand to all that he represented.
Terry’s generosity, kindness, and passion for helping others was known by all. While practicing law, where he worked primarily to help clients navigate family and matrimonial court, he still made it a priority to dedicate his time and expertise to charitable community organizations. The list of accomplishments and recognition is miles-long, but the highlights include: being named Man of the Year at Hope House Ministries for his work with the young men residing there conquering addictions; serving for 11 years on the Board of Directors of Literacy Suffolk (many years as president) where he was also named Man of the Year; serving on the Board of Directors for the non-profit, Christmas Magic, providing gifts to the underprivileged; being named Pro-Bono Attorney of the Year for the Suffolk County Bar Association; serving on the Cure Tay-Sachs Foundation Board of Directors, and being the court-appointed legal guardian to many who needed a gentle hand to guide them. His most recent volunteer work included a role on the Board of Directors for Camp Ma-He-Tu, in Bear Mountain, NY where he spearheaded fundraising efforts that helped the non-profit to become financially stable. For his years of service, he was honored with the Ernie Schwabe Award in 2022.
Though Terry called New Jersey home most recently, he never forgot his time at Sanford H. Calhoun High School in Merrick on Long Island. He was the quarterback of the football team and ran on the relay team in the New York State Championships in 1973. He was inducted into the Calhoun High School Hall of Fame in 2012, and in 2015, was the Calhoun Sports Booster Golf Outing Honoree. He was instrumental in founding the Calhoun Alumni Association and was in the process of helping to plan the 50th high school reunion to be held in September 2023.
Diagnosed at age 23, Terry was a Type-1 Diabetic, and persevered (without ever really complaining) through all the complications and challenges that having a chronic disease brings. In 2018, he was fortunate to be the recipient of a kidney and pancreas transplant that enabled him to come off dialysis and eliminate the need for insulin. Terry lovingly named his organs, Sam (pancreas) and Gloria (kidney), in honor of the wonderful medical staff.
Terry met Ellen, the love of his life, in junior high school and the two dated briefly after college. Fatefully, they reconnected later in life and finally made it official by getting hitched in 2011. Terry maintained a home in Medford, NY for many years and made the 6-ish hour roundtrip journey to Ellen’s house every weekend. Upon retirement, he relocated to Colts Neck full-time. Terry loved soaking in the views on breezy, summer days at their beloved home on Barley Point Island in Rumson, NJ. He was an avid collector of political memorabilia, enjoyed following the Mets and the Jets, was an old-time TV afficionado, dog-lover, and in his younger days, a runner. He even completed the Long Island Marathon, but quickly said he’d never do it again! True to his nature, he loved to cook and serve his family and friends delicious meals and his grandmother’s famous homemade rolls (though, he mostly ate peanut butter, Thomas’ English Muffins, and Oreos).
Terry is survived by his loving wife, Ellen; his brothers Michael Karl (Vallerie) and Richard Karl (Bruce Steiger); his sister, Linda Salony, his stepchildren Laura Shakespeare (Jon Russell) and Craig Shakespeare; sister-in-law, Glenda Hoppe, and brother-in-law, Rand Hoppe (Lisa Rigoux-Hoppe); as well as many nieces and nephews. Terry was preceded in death by his father, Harold Karl, mother, Jeanne Duckett Karl; his niece, Krystie Karl-Steiger; and his fur-babies, Aspen, Morgan, Riley, Maddie, and Bodie.
The funeral will be held on Thursday, March 30, at 2:00pm at the Colts Neck Reformed Church, in Colts Neck, NJ, immediately followed by a burial at adjacent Atlantic Cemetery, and repast at the church’s Fellowship Hall. The service will be live streamed at facebook.com/ellens.karl.
Additionally, a celebration of life gathering will be held at Moloney’s Hauppauge Funeral Home in Hauppauge, NY on Friday, March 31, from 5:00 – 8:00pm, with a program starting at 6:00pm. Please reach out to [email protected], if you are interested in sharing a memory or story during the memorial.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Terry to Camp Ma-He-Tu, or the Cure Tay-Sachs Foundation.