Terry Winnick, former Executive Vice President and General Manager of Universal Studios Hollywood, passed away last month on November 25. He was 66.
A Universal legend, pioneer, innovator and tour guide, Terry Winnick oversaw the crucial design, development and rise of Universal Studios Hollywood during its formative years. Winnick would later oversee the development and design of Universal Studios Florida, with particular focus on Universal’s opening attractions, including Back to the Future: The Ride, Kongfrontation, Earthquake and Jaws.
In his later years, Winnick would later serve as the President of International Resort and Leisure Operations, an architectural firm based on Las Vegas, Nevada. The family wishes that donations be made to Positively Kids in the name of the Terry Winnick Memorial Fund.
Jerry Green, former Director of Entertainment at Universal Studios Hollywood, wrote the following eulogy about his former coworker.
“You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”
Life is dotted with relationships that make up the fabric of our lifetime. One of those most cherished relationships that profoundly impacted my life was with my dear friend Terry Winnick. It’s with a broken heart that I write this tribute to him at his passing on Tuesday, November 25, 2014.
As my wife commented yesterday as we both wept after hearing of Terry’s death, life is sprinkled with highlights as people drift in and out of our life. Terry was one of those highlights for me, and by extension, for my family.
Terry and I began working at Universal Studios at almost the same time in 1968 and remained friends for over forty-five years. We began our “entertainment careers” as tour guides, thoroughly enjoying the experience. As the months and years slipped by Terry became more involved and focused in the management-and-design side of the business.
He attended USC and graduated with a degree in architectural design. Over the next many years Terry became, both literally and figuratively, the architect of Universal Studios Hollywood.
Although Terry and I didn’t see each other very often after we both left the Studio, it was a relationship of depth. I always thought of Terry more as a brother as well as a friend.
I don’t believe in luck or coincidence, so I know our “meeting” last December (2013) was orchestrated by God as a Divine appointment. It had been several years since Terry and I last saw each other. My wife and I were visiting New York with our daughter and her family. While waiting to be seated in a restaurant in Manhattan I looked across the lobby and there was a familiar face, my friend Terry. It was a joyous reunion and we ended up having a most wonderful evening together. Terry lived in Las Vegas and I live in Southern California, so to “accidentally” run into him, in one of a bazillion restaurants in Manhattan, on the same evening, at the same time, both having to wait for a table, was most certainly not by chance. I am grateful to the Lord for that evening.
Over the next several months we interacted over the phone, with plans to meet for dinner on his next trip to Southern Cal. He was gracious to help my son with interviews for Inside Universal regarding his days at the studio in its’ formative years; interviews that were never completed as Terry’s health began to deteriorate a few months ago.
The verse quoted at the beginning of this tribute is from the book of James (chapter 4, verse 14), a short epistle in the Bible. And although Terry’s life seems to have ended much too quickly, he will certainly remain in my heart for a lifetime.
I’m sure he never knew how much he impacted my life and so many others.
You will be missed my dear friend.