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Terrea Lea passed away on January 5, 2013.
From the San Diego Union-Tribune, January 13, 2013:
Most people knew Terrea Lea as the quiet, unassuming partner that served up mini-donuts at the Del Mar and Ventura fairs. What some did not know is how successful she was as a folk singer, musician, recording artist, radio and TV personality. Shy, yet wickedly funny, she gave better than she got!! To quote E. E. Cummings, "somewhere I have never traveled, gladly beyond any experience." Rest in peace, my friend.
The Union-Tribune guestbook for Terrea will remain open permanently. Friends are encouraged to leave comments there.
Following are entries from the Union-Tribune guest book for Terrea. More will be added as they appear there.
March 19, 2021
I was saddened to hear of Terrea, Sue and BJ's passing. We were just kids, myself, Chris and Burt.
We really had no where to go, to just be us. We stumbled into the Garret and were welcomed and cared for. The Garret was our soft place to land. 53 years later, we will remember your kindness always.
Burt Huffman and I are still close.
Jan Vose, you can find me on Facebook
~ Jan Vose
January 7, 2021
Another year has gone by, but I'm still as big a Terrea Lea fan as ever, and I still listen to her records regularly (I think that I have them all). Her voice was a gift to all of us. On another note, does anyone have a transcription to electronic file of her "Here's to Veterans", a program supporting veterans' benefits. I have it on the original 16" vinyl radio transcription disk, but I have not been able to find anyone with a turntable to play it. I can be reached at 512-468-2929.
~ Michael Gross
January 8, 2020
2020 has arrived and I'm still rattling around the ranch.
The end of last year has been a very wet one. We needed the rain so, while inconvenient, it was welcome.
Sadly, Joy Neff passed away. She has been a constant reminder of Garrett yesterdays. Each Christmas season twelve jars of jam and two dozen English muffins appeared, sent by her and now is continued by Judy, her sister. Time never diminished her affection for The Garrett and those who 'lived' there.
The Donut Express is still going strong at the Ventura Fair and people still ask about you.
There was a fire in October which, luckily, only caught half of the bull pen (at the back of the property). We were lucky. No humans or animals were hurt. We got them all out very quickly while the fire raged. Candidly, wondering if we would have a place to return to. Thank goodness for the quick work of the fire department, damage was minimal.
Last year was a year of reflection. I suspect father time is catching up with me.
However, as always, I forge forward.
Sleep warm, my friend.
January 7, 2020
I've been a fan of Terrea Lea since the early '70's, and I still listen to her records (I have them all) regularly. Her deep, resonant voice, her guitar, and her choice of material help define the soul of folk music. Her music and her life were important contributions, and I still regret that I never saw her live or met her. What's not mentioned often, but that comes through in listening to her music, is that she cared deeply about social and political issues in our society, and spoke out about them. It's hard to find her music now: most is only available on rare copies of the LP's. They are worth the search.
~ Mike Gross, Austin, TX
April 2, 2019
Hi Miss Lea,
Yes I'm late this year with my look back on the year 2018.
Good news! Mostly old friends are still active. Joy Neff has moved to Wisconsin with her sister and is experiencing health problems. The rest of us are pottering around.
Mary Lou has redone your home. I understand it looks wonderful and being enjoyed to the fullest.
With me, I'm questioning ranch life - the verdict is out at this moment.
The Donut Express remains active and successful.
We love and miss you.
April 1, 2019
When I was a boy of 10 or 11 my Mom took me to see Terrea. I've always recalled it as a Venice coffeehouse but it may have been The Garrett. It was a VERY intimate venue. I had been playing guitar for some years, so naturally "The Wind..." became my immediate favorite. :) Her natural comfort onstage inspired me to nearly 30 years of solo stage singing myself, performing all over New England from the late 60&ap0s;s onward. Thank you, Terrea.
~ Gary Fooe, Tamworth, NH
October 10, 2018
Sending love to all friends and fans of Terrea from Australia. Just playing the live at the Garret album I happened upon a dozen years or so ago. Her story and tributes touch me deeply for reasons I don't understand, but here's to her place in the fabric of your and my folklore. Bless her memory.
~ Kelvin Harman, Winchelsea, UM
August 23, 2018
I was saddened to find this obituary and delighted at the recognition that Terrea Lea is receiving. If anyone is interested, I am the recording engineer, and producer, that recorded and released the album "Terrea Lea at the Garrett" circa 1962 on my own lable. If anyone is passionate, I still have a few of the original records in hand, and I might even have the original pressing masters (uncertain of that last).
~ W. Michael King, Corona, CA
December 30, 2017
Like a bad penny, I'm back again.
2017 has been an uneventful year; filled with reflection and contemplation.
Starr and her daughter, Isolde, performed at a women's symposium attended by Hillary Clinton. They performed the song Isolde wrote for Hillary. It was received very warmly.
Sandy is battling cancer. Her spirits are high and things look positive.
These old bones are still rattling around.
Annie says hello.
January 16, 2017
I've been in love with Terrea Lea's voice and music since I got a copy of "at the Garret" in 1970 or so. Over the years I've found nearly all of her records. One of my great regrets is that I didn't find my way out to California to hear her sing. Terrea Lea's music is a treasure.If there ever is a way I could help make it more available . . . I would.
~ Mike Gross, Austin, TX
December 6, 2016
Hi girlfriend, another year passes and with it two beloved friends have joined you. I can hear the laughter the five of you must be enjoying together. A chorus of wit and talent that I am missing.
I am trying to uphold the Donut Express tradition by continuing to reach out. Can't tell you how many exhibitors speak affectionately about the three of you.
Keep warm thoughts as I do of you.
~ Stacey Lubell, Canyon Country
December 25, 2015
Merry Christmas, Terrea.
You'd be pleased to see the memories being shared this year on your site. You always underestimated your influence and the affection felt by so many friends of the Garrett.
I think you would be delighted with the reception the new Donut Express booth is receiving. We created quite a stir this year.
On a personal note, I wish you had been here to share in the kudos we received.
I miss your steady hand, devilish grin and sharp wit.
Until next year my friend.
~ Stacey Lubell, Canyon Country
September 1, 2015
I was also named after Terrea Lea. My father heard her sing on the radio and loved her voice and her name so I was named Terria Leigh. I am proud of my name and get many complements on it. I work for Disney and Terria is what is on my name tag. Iwould have loved to have met Terrea Lea it would have been a real honor to meet the lady I was named after. Rest in peace Terrea!
~ Terria Leigh
June 5, 2015
My Memories Are Vivid Of Terrea at the The Garret I was one of her first guests there, absolutely filled with wonderful folk music. What a performer! I sat around the fire place and now every time I go to Cantors I pass The Garret what changes have occurred. I Miss the wonderful times there and Terrea.
~ Ike Benoun
January 5, 2015
My memories are sweet and sad...I spent many hours there at the wonderful Garret Coffee House, about ten years worth at least and so enjoyed playing at the Hootenanies. A very special place and very special memories. It gave me great joy to bring new people there to hear and enjoy Terrea. I was very proud of her and bragged of her talent often.
I was her "token" country performer, ha ha and still have her written requests buried in my treasure trove of all things Garret.
I hadn't looked in on the website for a long time but she was strong on my mind lately and today I discovered she had passed two years ago this very day. It was a stab in the heart...that time and Terrea was always comforting to me and I will treasure them always. But for now I must mourn awhile. God rest.
~ Mary Rickman, Las Vegas, NV
December 5, 2014
Well T.L., another year has passed and "Virgin Mary" sounds as wonderful today as it did when I first heard it at The Garret 45 years ago.
I think you'd be pleased with the new Donut Express web site. It has been received with great enthusiasm. The video is terrific. I&'m encouraged by the response. I only wish you, B.J. and Sue were here to enjoy it.
Have a lovely Christmas, ladies. You are all missed.
April 6, 2014
My father saw her perform in the 50's and brought home her album Terrea Lea Folk Songs and Ballads - which I still have. I used the old English ballad 'If'n I Was Your True Love' in my novel about the Pony Express titled 'Xp.' Her haunting voice brings back the most poignant memories of my father that I have. If I had known she was still alive I would have crossed the Mojave desert to thank her. I have printed a copy of the music in the back of my book along with Terrea's name - perhaps more will discover her? Truly hope so! Alison M. Bailey
~ Alison M. Bailey, Carpinteria, California
December 25, 2013
Well my friend, a year has passed since we laughed and shared a Christmas mug of hot apple cider. The aroma of the cinnamon stick lingers.
I miss my weekly train ride to Vista. Our shopping adventures at Wal-Mart. Your ability to narrowly miss the end displays as you whirled your motor cart around the end caps. More than once I remember steadying a rocking display. But most, I miss your laughter, your wit and your non-judgmental insight into the frailties of friends. Simply put, I miss you and sure hope you, BJ and Sue are having one wonderful Christmas.
December 3, 2013
Going to The Garret in the early 60's was a magical experience for a 16 year old. Such wonderful memories of Terrea Lea and her musical guests.
~ Linda Lee, Moss Beach, California
November 25, 2013
I met and fell in love with Terrea in 1966 after I got out of the Air Force. I have almost worn out her record by now. When I married, I introduced the mother of my children to her. When my last daughter was born in 1975, I named Kimberlea after her. RIP
June 26, 2013
I wish you were here today to witness the end od DOMA. I will never forget the enjoyment you brought to so many during the Garrett Days.
~ Stephanie Lane, Denver, Colorado
May 5, 2013
You were a multicolored light in my life. You opened the door to adulthood for me, and now you've closed the door behind you on this time around. Good on ya girl - you done good with your turn in my book!
~ Joan Baker, Jamestown, California
May 4, 2013
We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Miss Terrea Lea.
Although I did not know her personally, we share the same name and had been in touch a few times, via email. I know of another girl whose parents named her after Miss Terrea Lea, as well.
Deepest Condolences to her family and friends.
~ Terrea Lea, Indiana
April 10, 2013
I too am grateful for the many nights spent at the garrett. In high school it was my go to spot to take dates. Her sense of humor was as lively as her wonderful voice.
~ Larry Stein, Glendale, California
March 25, 2013
Terrea was my second cousin. As a kid I remember many fun times when we visited LA. I am so glad to have known her & I play her records & CD often. RIP Terrea.
~ Judy Cannon, Lebanon, Missouri
March 13, 2013
Good bye Terrea. Sadly, fondly, with an ache in my old heart. Time to go. But there are so many who remember you with love that you will live on as long as there is breath. I loved you then and I love you now. I will always love you.
~ Cathy Singleterry, London
February 21, 2013
Thank you for the beautiful music and inspiration that is still in my heart and memory. I can still hear the whistle blow, clickety clack, clickety clack...go bum again.
~ Alfie Krakow, Malibu, California
February 12, 2013
I will be forever grateful for the time I spent at the Garrett. Words cannot express my sense of loss for a truly original singer. I am glad that I can still hear her on my ipod. It was a magical time and place and I will always miss it. Thanks for keeping us close and updated Jerry. Now for a chorus of "One More Time" as we dream of our pads of early Akron, color scheme of green and blue. The thought of this makes me smile through the tears.
~ Donna LaFortune, Azusa, California
February 10, 2013
Sorry to hear of Terrea's passing. Besides "Acre to a Foot of Ground," she had a zany song about riding on a motorcycle with a guy with a hairy vest on. Do you know it? Maybe she rode the BIG cycle into the sky. Peggy
~ Peggy Goshgarian, Seiad Valley, California
February 10, 2013
An invitation to The Garret was the biggest "score" of my high school social years. And how many times did I go home and practice the guitar chords, runs, and picks that I'd watched Terrea Lea perform. Ah, the Garret..... Here's to Terrea Lea!
~ Cindy Gise, Santa Clarita, California
February 10, 2013
We were so smart when we were kids. We would watch Terrea and quickly learned the lyrics, her chords and strums. We also learned, quite by accident, her easy sense of fun, passion for the music and the love and respect for one another. Pretty good legacy. Thanks Terrea Lea. Gretchen Moore Valdez
~ Gretchen Moore Valdez, Pipe Creek, Texas
February 08, 2013
My sister, Joy Neff, must have left her heart at the Garret. We now live together in 'old-age' and we share all her wonderful memories of the Garret. Whenever Joy speaks of Terrea Lea, her mother, BJ, Stacey or Sue, it's heartfelt love. They were truly were great spirits and touched so many lives.
Every time we get news that one of those special people has passed on we share tears and wish their souls well by toasting their lives with a drink in our Garret mugs. Reading my sisters' memorial to Terrea and the old gang brought tears to my eyes.
When Joy started attending, then working at the Garret and raving about the place to me. I was most amazed ...and, ... I was the old sister, so, I tended to worry about my baby sis ... was she safe?, was she okay there? I just had to check it out, after all, she looked at the Garret like another home. When I visited the Garret and listened to the heavenly music Terrea sang and the warmth I felt just being there, I couldn't help feeling addicted to the place. I knew then Joy was in the company of wonderful, loving people. Our mother's curiosity peaked, and sure enough Joy took her to the Garret too. Don't you know, ...that got Mom's 'stamp of approval' and that took care of that!' Joy was going to be okay.
We also wish to thank a very honorable fellow, Jerry Hollombe, for his years of dedicated service to all those who frequented the Garret with his most wonderful website: http://www.thegarret.info. He has been the mortar between the bricks to have created a forum for the "Garreteers" to come together and share memories. Thank you so much Jerry and please keep it going!
Thanks to all of you who have enriched our most cherished memories of the Garret.
GOD BLESS YOU ALL,
~ Judy Neff, Eagle Point, Oregon
February 8, 2013
For Terrea, BJ, Elizabeth and Sue, who were only goin' o'er Jordan and have already gone o'er Home; and, for Stacey, staid with us, "Thank You" "Garret-5" for 48 years of warmth, welcome and wisdom.
I am ever-grateful to Elizabeth for giving us Terrea, who, in turn, gave us the Garret and all the ties that bind. Perhaps we Garreteers have been Wayfarin'; but, never were we Strangers.
Thank you, Terrea/Garret-5; for creating an "Island For Misfit Toys", wherein every night you could: "Come on in, ...you know you're welcome here!" ...In, to the strains of blenders, espresso machine, candled-tables, the least-played jukebox in the history of boxes; ...and the heart-strings of Garret-home.
We "Toast" Terrea, her life, times and talent; her reverence and consummate support for the Foundation of the Junior Blind, where simply, you need just 'Ask A Child' and the story unfolds.
We "applaud" Terrea's multi-faceted creativity; her determination, dedication and deliverance were keystone to all she endeavored and evidenced through all she articulated, actuated and accomplished.
We "admire": Terrea's strength, spirit and sensibilities, through all the times, big and small, thick and thin, happy and sad, et al; she epitomized "The Show Must Go On"; and, She did. She showed and she shown.
We "respect": Terrea's artistry and achievements as actor/ writer/ lyricist/ composer /musician and contralto; ...the incomparable "voice" that was then, will now be forever-recalled.
I believe Terrea was the 'one', singular artist that could sing life into a lyric and make it come alive as the stand-alone, "You Are There"--experience the writer intended to share and recall.
In Garret-speak,...we need not 'Try To Remember', we've known, felt and lived all the refrains. Terrea journeyed us through all the places, times and introduced us to the 'folks'; the whole, bereft, strong, weak, weary and happy. We were there; ...with the monger, sailor, beggar, the pipers, brothers, soldiers, lovers, Mariah, Golden Apples, Autumn Leaves...we knew their plights, fears, wants, beauty, pain and joy. And, 'while you're listening to me' ..."can you hum a few bars?!" Life-to-song, ...the gifts she gave. Always, ...our hearts will remember and ...follow ...follow ...follow ...'Every little once in awhile', ...I think of '923' (...at about 9:23...) ...When the Garret doors closed, I think we all looked back; ...I still do.
"Thank You", Terrea, Garret-5; we, the Garreteers, know we are the lucky few beneficiaries of Garret-home-life where often we laughed, loved, listened and learned countless lifelong lessons. The sights, sounds, smells, stage, singer, songs, sets; ...the surround, the spirit, the site ...all have brought 'Joy, Joy, Joy To My Soul!'
"Thank You", Garret-All for the many memoried-times, myriad of collective yet singular experiences and interpretations that became my source of surety, strength and support. That base underpinned my 'new beginnings' with steadfast, permanent and dependable foundation upon which I could reliably build and expand throughout my 'middles' that eventually, steadily and securely delivered me to my 'joyful endings'.
While I sit on my Garret-stool, amidst my Break Free tables, I'm remembering and looking at the Garret Coffee House Relief (coffee bean background, guitar foreground and demitasse side...); and, now, with a Garret-filled heart, I hoist my Garrret-mug: "Hear, hear: God Bless you, Terrea and thank you for ever-sharing the bounty of you; the person, the spirit, the artist, the performance(s) of a lifetime then and now-resonate forever. May God's speed already have secured you in heaven 15 minutes before the Devil knew you were gone. And, Terrea, ..build it!"
We will come; ...in our time, one-by-one, we'll follow the familiar strains and we'll know we've arrived when beyond the open door we hear, "Come on in..."; and we'll know we're welcome there, ...all the misfit toys, ...all together, ...home, again.
For Stacey and all the Garreteers: God speed you toward lighter hearts, happier days and guard closely your special memories. And now, I raise my mug to your mugs and say: "Here's to you, my Ramblin', ...may all your rambles bring you Joy!
GOD BLESS AND LOVE YOU ALL!
~ Joy Neff, Eagle Point, Oregon
February 04, 2013
I was first introduced to the Garret and to Terrea Lea by my sister, who I suppose was also beginning to find her identity. For me, it was the beginning of my own journey from introvert to extrovert, and the Garret was a place to bring a date. But above all it was the music, that glorious alto, with resonance accompanied by beautiful guitar sound. And the songs! To this day, her rendition of "Land of Odin" remains a favorite. And the ice cream: I can't tell you how many times I pigged out on a sundae, even on a Saturday night! I was wondering, for some odd reason what happened to TL; now I know, and I'm too late to say how much she meant to my life then.
~ Howard Burkhart, Los Angeles, California
February 2, 2013
Wow. The Garret - Terrea, BJ, Stacey, and Sue -- changed my life. I first went there as a teenager, confused and with no identity, and they helped me begin the journey to self-acceptance and success. Terrea introduced me to Unity, which was such an important first step in my spirituality. I was a musician and enjoyed picking up guitar hints from Terrea. 1963 is 50 years ago; a half century - seems like yesterday. It was a rocky road for me, but the Garret was such an important foundation for all that has followed. I am forever grateful to Terrea and the other 3 "principals" of the Garret for midwifing me as best they could into some semblance of maturity -- all with incredible humor. God bless you all!!!
~ Joan Baker, Jamestown, California
January 25, 2013
Never did I think the night I walked into the Garret Coffeehouse I would begin a journey that would last over 52 years.
Rich in diversity, it became a voyage of creativity, friendship, respect and mutual admiration.
Whether it was writing songs or fashioning product for Neiman-Marcus, the muses inspired and we responded.
They were gloriously fun days.
It has never been easy for me to cry, especially when it would do me some good.
Terrea, according to her wishes, was cremated January 10, 2013. And if you listen closely to the wind you will hear a familiar voice... and guitar.
January 24, 2013
You know, it's was so long ago, I don't remember exactly what I had at the Garrett. A cappuccino or mull wine, and some tasty pastry that was made more exotic by the low lights?
What I do remember is when Terrea got up on stage with her twelve string guitar and started singing! I figured she must be one of the most successful people in the world, as what could be better than to have your OWN coffee house, and to be able to get up and sing for your friends?
When I reflected on this back in those days, I figured it must take a lot of work to nurse a venture like that along. But all in all, it sure seemed like it was about the best thing in the world!
Terrea, you'll always be right there under the spotlight, singing and telling a joke or two that brought laughter and happiness to your friends and fans.
~ Stan U, Los Angeles, California
January 23, 2013
I am so sorry to hear this. Dang. I imagine that the 90 year old Terrea was pretty much packed and ready to go, but the Terrea we remember from the Garret would never just up and die. Too vital. Too important a part of our lives. Listening to her deep whiskey voice, seeing her on the stage in that bright spotlight, watching her fingers strum and pick at blinding speed, singing along with her (quietly) as Lazlo Thea once again stole a stallion, as he was fond of doing most Friday and Saturday nights. All while sipping on my Maraschino something-or-other that I loved. Going to, being at, going home from....the Garret was cool. And maybe a little bit daring ("Motel spelled backwards is letom" --- why did that always make us laugh?) And those of us from a certain generation shall never speak of the night Paul Peterson's convertible made its driverless trip to the middle of the Fairfax & Willoughby intersection, simply because he cut us off for a parking spot. But we know. We remember. I miss those times. I shall miss her.
~ Chris Roderick, Valencia, California
January 22, 2013
"TERREA" Her Name rings Music. Sitting in those bucket seats trying to copy the chords on my guitar and she would stop and ask "did you get that?" The days of the Ice House, the radio gigs at night. Her warm voice and warm sounds of her melodious voice will ring within my heart. My flute she played on her alblum. The many people she touched. Her dry sense of humor and laughter ring through the Heaven's. Terrea, BJ, Sue will live on in my heart. Thank you for your essence of BEING YOU. Love, Diane Gerow "I Talk To The Trees"
~ Diane Gerow - Corn, Scottsdale, Arizona
January 21, 2013
First we'd tell our folks we were going to the "library." Then we'd hop into whoever's car had gas and tear over the pass to West Hollywood, almost always making it there in time to get good seats. Listening to a real pro like Terrea was thrilling, and the whole atmosphere was made more electric by the simple fact that we weren't supposed to be there. The years passed and we got to know Terrea and her “family” as friends. They added wonderful memories to our lives, and to this day when her name is mentioned, we smile and can't resist retelling our stories.
~ Kathleen Galbraith, Los Ojos, New Mexico
January 20, 2013
It began as an appreciation of the Voice, Miss Terrea Lea, and developed , through great good fortune, into a true friendship. Now, nearly 50 years later, it becomes time to say a very sad farewell to a great voice and even greater friend. I will miss you.
~ Ann Klein, Canyon Country, California
January 20, 2013
Terrea was such an important part of my "formative years" --hanging out at the Garret, drinking Frosted Mochas, and writing down the chords to all of her songs. I can still recite all the words to,,,"The saber toothed tiger, mastodon and man are extinct, and you and I will be known as the link that missed instead of the missing link...: It was an honor to know her in later years, too. I enjoyed her sly smile, her sense of humor, and the twinkle in her eye. But I'll always be grateful for the gift of her music.
~ Randa Krakow, Leucadia, California
January 19, 2013
Terrea and the Garret were among our best memories from the 1960's; my wife Patty (of 47 years and counting) memorized every song she illuminated. I often feel her inspiration in my own music. "To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die" Thank you for the love you shared with all of us.
~ Dennis McCarthy, Burbank, California
January 17, 2013
TERRI,FIRST I WAS A FAN AS A TEENAGER, WE ALL HUNG OUT AT THE GARRET COFFEE HOUSE.[THEY CALL THE WIND..THE WIND] THE BEST OF TIMES..THEN AS THE YEARS WENT ON WE ALL BECAME FRIENDS AND ALWAYS STAYED IN TOUCH. WHEN I DECIDED 2 GO INTO COMEDY B.J. SUE & TERRI WERE ALWAYS THERE WITH SUPPORT..I COULD GO ON & ON...3 LADIES THAT HAVE A LITTLE PIECE OF MY HEART R NOW WITH THE ANGELS...XO
~ ROBERTA KENT, ENCINO, California
January 17, 2013
Terrea,I am so happy you were a part of my life. Thank you for all the good memories we shared together. You are in the Lords hands now. But,I will still miss you! Your friend,Sandy Holmes
January 17, 2013
A light has gone out in the world.
I knew Terrea Lea for nearly 50 years. There are many songs that don't sound right to me unless she is singing them. I thought of her and the rest of the gang at The Garret Coffee House as my friends and family. She will be sorely missed.
~ Jerry Hollombe, Winnetka, California
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Page last updated: March 20, 2021