Terry Laborde

Our dear friend and loved one Terry Laborde, 1944-2020, no longer is among us, the living.

Terry was a Texan. He had a dog, a pickup truck, and a gun. And a big heart. Got here as quick as he could.

Many of us knew him as the “smiling guy.” He was much loved, gifted with a fascinating mind and intense empathy. Terry was a natural born intellectual, and powerfully moral being. No surprise, he also had a clever sense of humor. A visit with Terry often left our cheeks hurting from laughter. And a bag full of  “on the way homers” when we finally got the joke we missed in the moment.

He was an expert historian, specializing in military and political history. He was a good philosopher, too. A keen observer of global events, he proved prescient about so much we confront today. History repeats itself. Terry was, as many are, a Libertarian and strong advocate of national sovereignty. He believed that through mutual kindness and awareness, we can freely take care of each other, together, not be made to do it by authorities, particularly “the extortions of the government,” as he once put it.

Terry was born into a family of Latter-Day Saints. Though he did not adopt their religion, Terry was shaped by their culture. He was conceived in the darkest days of World War II as an act of faith and hope. In his youth he lived in Golden Colorado, where he would often hike down the mountain to attend his university courses, and climb back up in the dark to return home. His focus was history and philosophy. Professionally, his work was on the complexities of building and maintaining telephone networks. His knowledge was matchless.

He disliked mathematics as a youth, but later became good at it, meticulous, and eventually mastered advanced symbolic logic - a challenging subject - in his late 60s and 70s. This high-level logic is the foundation of all advanced technology - cell phones, computers, internet, so on. This old dog could learn new tricks.

Terry was a consummate firearms expert, and a man versed in the martial arts, both Western and Eastern. He was a successful student of Master at Arms James Albert Keating, who is among the most accomplished and respected masters of the sword and the blade in this century. As Terry aged, he survived a mugging. He prevailed but was hurt.

As he put it, “They went after me, just because I have grey hair.” He turned to the blade for self-defense. He explained, “All it takes is a knife.” 

He sought wisdom and martial guidance. He found both in Keating and in his friends here. You know who you are. Terry also studied hand-to-hand under our sensei in Alpine, Allen Croft.

Most of all, Terry was a brilliant writer of fiction. His writing is dazzling. The emotional range is vast. His novel, Leave All Mercy, is a very realistic and real page-turner, a classic action and morality tale driven by isolation, love, and courage. The novel is set in a veiled version of South Brewster county. For instance, Terlingua appears as “Tres Aquas.” The action involves many of the people here. Everyone who has read Leave All Mercy loves it. We will be publishing the novel this summer. Many of you reading it will find characters similar to yourselves within (under new names). You will be pleased. The scenes, action, and plot are gripping, the prose gifted. Having read hundreds of works of fiction this one easily, honestly, ranks near the top. Then we have a story of a quest for righteousness and redemption, the “Old Man and the Virgin.” Here a weathered, hardened veteran of the Mexican Revolution goes on a mission to retrieve a stolen religious treasure, a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He will do and risk anything for the right and just cause. This beautifully penned story appeared in the Desert Candle and received much praise.

Also, there is the mystical “As I Walked in Dreams,” a striking vision of morality and immortality through the eyes of a young woman, a teenager, in the mists of the 19th century. One who still walks in grace, in wisdom into the dreams of those who ask, “Why must I die?” She knows the answer, and gestures the way to the gate. The “Briar bow,” as Terry wrote, an arch woven of thorns on each side, but a safe path within.

Terry envisioned, produced, and co-directed the award-winning film A Riddle of Steel. The filmtraces his progress under Master at Arms James Keating with both the blade and spirit. It earned several festival awards. Keating’s famous Riddle of Steeltraining camp is at the center. Riddle of Steel is a fast paced, hour-long film that is deeply personal, comedic, and filled with fundamental human insights provided by Terry and the film’s many other participants. Terry was a humble, private person at heart, and did not announce or promote his film locally. After success in film festivals and a good run on DVD, Riddle is now available on Youtube where he wished to post it near the end of his life. Many worked closely with Terry to create his film. Please visit the following link and get to meet, re-meet and remember Terry. youtube.com/channel/UCZ9uhWL8FE6UvTiucSok4qQ

Just search “Riddle of Steel Lee Basham.”

Terry lived and died in clarity, humor and bravery. He loved much, knew much, and saw very far. He served with distinction in the famous Berlin Trip-Wire U.S. Infantry force in Berlin, Germany. He expected and accepted he would be killed, but not without a fight.

Decades later he fought well at the final moments of his life. At the end, his literary gifts sharpened, and his visions and clarity intensified. Most important, he knew finally without any doubt or reservation that he was so much loved. And then he was gone. He walked through the briar bow. In moments like these, we can only turn to tears.

Terry is survived by his son Michael and family, his sister Karen Lebonte, the Lebordes of Colorado, and his friends. Half his ashes are spread on his property at the ranch. Some have met the winds at the top of Gunsight Mountain, behind his home and visible in the distance from Highway 118. At the Gunsight itself. As Terry wished. May he fly on forever.