In Memoriam

Theodora (Terrie) Dacales

By the time she arrived in Rose Hill, Terrie Dacales already had seen much of the world. It was time for Fairfax County and Rose Hill to see her in full glory that enriched the lives of students, friends and neighbors until she died at age of 81 on April 11, 2011. Terrie and her husband Gus, an economist for the Agency for International Development, had lived in Pakistan, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Ethiopia. Terrie taught at the Karachi American School in Pakistan, whetting her appetite for career that would touch the lives of hundreds youngsters in Fairfax County.

Both natives of Philadelphia, Gus and Terrie met at St. George Greek Orthodox Church. They were married in 1952. Gus was a decorated radio operator with the Army Air Corps in World War II. After the war, he finished college at Drexel University and then earned a Master’s Degree from Temple University. After Gus and Terrie returned from overseas posts with AID, they first lived in the Philadelphia area but moved to Northern Virginia when Gus took a job with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. 

After two years in a rental apartment in Fairlington, they decided to raise their family in the community of Rose Hill and bought a split level on Apple Tree Drive in 1967. Driven to become a teacher in her new surroundings, Terrie earned a degree at the then new George Mason University in Fairfax in the early 1970s.  She went to work for Fairfax County schools, beginning a 30-year career that saw her twice nominated for Virginia Teacher of the Year.

Terrie taught at nearby Claremont, Franconia and Groveton elementary schools as well as several other schools. Few teachers connected as easily with their students as Terrie. Many, many, kept in touch with her until the day she died.  Twice a candidate for the county School Board after she retired, Terrie had a small army of former students knocking on doors, stuffing envelopes and making phone calls on her behalf. Neophytes in the political world, they didn’t win but it wasn’t for lack of effort. 

Extremely proud of her Greek heritage, Terrie was a torch bearer for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, carrying the flame on the streets of Olde Town Alexandria.  The first modern Olympics were held in Athens, Greece in 1896, but the original competition began in the eighth century in Olympia, Greece.  In 1992, Terrie was the national president of the Greek organization Daughters of Penelope of North America.  

She was active in various charitable efforts, including the March of Dimes, American Heart Association and Cooley’s Anemia. After a long illness, she would die of complications from a heart attack. Community involvement included support for local youth sports organizations and a jack-of-all trades volunteer for the teams at Highland Park Swim Club.

In 1997, she became the Vice President of the Rose Hill Civic Association, a post she would hold until, 2007. Terrie and Gus, by then incapacitated by a stroke, had moved to a larger home and son Craig and his family remained in the Rose Hill house until 2001. No matter where she lived, Terrie’s heart was always in Rose Hill. Her tireless work on behalf of the community was greatly appreciated by those who still considered her a neighbor.            

Gus and Terrie had two children, Dawn and Craig. Both are graduates of Edison High School. Dawn, who earned a degree at Virginia Tech, has followed her mother’s footsteps as a teacher. She lives in Spotsylvania and has three children, Elysa, Jordan and Alex. Craig, a graduate of the College of William & Mary and the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, now lives in Gainesville with his wife Elisa and children Nikki and Theo.        

The Rose Hill Civic Association celebrated Terrie’s life and her contributions to the community with a special program at its May 2011 meeting, appropriately held at Rose Hill Elementary School.

RHCA Home Page