Elizabeth Jane Terry, a versatile journalist who worked in Paris, London and Los Angeles, died December 7th at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. She was 45.
The cause of death was breast cancer, an illness Terry fought for years while continuing to write in her breezy, cheerful style for various publications and while working with her husband, James Terry, on a book called “Gardening Angel,” to be published by HarperCollins San Francisco. The project stemmed from an article in Oprah magazine that Elizabeth wrote about her husband’s love and determination to fill a garden with cancer-fighting herbs and vegetables, to cook them and make her well. James will finish the book on his own.
Born in Santa Monica to British parents, Terry spent her childhood between Sherborne, in Dorset, England, and Santa Monica. After graduating with a degree in French from UCLA in 1984, she moved to Paris where she began her career in journalism, working first in the Paris bureau of People magazine, then as assistant to Maggi Nolan at the Celebrity Bulletin, a biweekly subscription newsletter that tracked the famous people living in or visiting Paris. It was here that she honed her journalism skills as well as her ability to jump into any social situation—from cocktail parties during Paris fashion week, to gallery openings, to dinner parties with French and English royals—with grace and finesse. Her fluency in French, German and English was an asset, as was her natural style and charisma.
Back in Santa Monica in 1988, she met and then married James Terry on Santa Catalina Island on September 14, 1991. While living in California, she worked for Palisadian Post, House & Garden, and Vanity Fair, in various capacities. She also opened the West Coast bureau of The New Yorker.
Terry and her husband relocated to London in 1993 to be closer to her Dorset-based mother, Barbara, who was suffering from a long illness. The Terrys settled in Barnes, a London suburb, and Elizabeth joined Time Life International as a freelance correspondent for People magazine and helped establish a European presence for its newly launched sister publication, InStyle. While there, she wrote about style, including features on the home lives of some notoriously private Brits. She also covered Princess Diana’s post-Charles years.
It was during this time in London that Terry was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, which was treated and put into remission. Soon after, Terry accepted a position as West Coast Editor for eLuxury, the online website of the French fashion conglomerate, LVMH. The company relocated the couple back to Santa Monica, where she covered the luxury market, lifestyle, and celebrities for the website.
When eLuxury eventually pared down its editorial features, Terry launched into a successful freelance writing career covering topics that interested and amused her: gardens, home décor, travel, interesting personalities and local Santa Monica history.
When cancer reentered her life, she attacked it with patience, humor, determination and a constant search for answers. Her seeking turned up some of the best doctors in the field, little known treatments, deep friendships, and newfound faith. Throughout the struggle, Terry continued to laugh, travel, work, and help others.
She focused her fundraising talents on a little known genetic condition called tuberous sclerosis and raised money (in part by auctioning off weeklong stays in her family home in Sherborne) to help find a cure. She often credited a little boy with the condition for inspiring her in her own journey. She was always amazed at how he endured his treatments all the while remaining happy and loving. She was the same.
Elizabeth is survived by her father Harold Marchant of Keitum, Sylt, Germany; brothers Michael Braunholtz and David Marchant; sister Anne Braunholtz; step-father Ted Braunholtz; two nieces; and her loving husband.
Terry has asked that donations be made in honor of Benjamin Shapiro to the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, 801 Roeder Road, Silver Spring, MD, 20910.
A service will be held on December 20th at 11:00 at All Saints Church, 132 North Euclid Avenue, Pasadena. A reception will follow.