Roy Terrell, 56, the managing editor of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED since 1974, retired early this month, leaving an emptiness on this magazine that will be hard to fill. Not only because of his notable professional ability but also because of his day-to-day presence. Terrell was a vital part of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED from the day he joined our staff in May 1955 until the June 4 issue, the last he edited, was off the press. Indeed, he was part of SI even before he came to us: a column by Terrell, then sports editor of the Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller, appeared in our second issue, dated Aug. 23, 1954.
That column, on horse racing, was an indication of Roy's broad knowledge of sports. He became, at various times, SI's No. 1 writer on baseball, college football and basketball, track and field, skiing, and the Olympic Games. Having been raised in South Texas, Terrell was unacquainted with the winter weather up North; during his first December in New York he blithely strode through a patch of new-fallen snow on a sidewalk, slipped and fell flat. Yet, when sent to Aspen, Colo. to cover the U.S. Alpine ski team's preparations for the 1960 Winter Olympics, he became so frustrated at having to watch the races from the bottom of the hill that he took skiing lessons on the spot. In a few days Roy was on the slopes himself, on skis, close to the contestants. By Olympic time he was an accomplished skier and, as a result, even closer to the athletes.
Although best known for fact-filled, fast-paced news stories, Roy's grace as a writer was most evident in two long, thoughtful pieces he did for us just before he gave up writing for editing. One was a memorable account of his introduction, at age 39, to sailplaning (he had been a Marine pilot in World War II). The other article, a cheerful but far from mocking description of cricket, has been called the best story ever written by an American about that storied sport.
Terrell was named assistant managing editor in 1963 and executive editor in 1970. In his five years as managing editor, he insisted on the highest quality in reporting and writing for the magazine and, extending deadlines to the outer limits of our printing and engraving capabilities, made SI's news coverage ever more timely. In those years SI reached new peaks both editorially and in advertising revenues.
June 10, 1979
Now Terrell, whose philosophy has always been to work hard and play hard, will move to Key West, where he intends to fish a lot and write a little. Good fishing, Roy. And don't forget to write. For us.
Roy Terrell's successor, Gilbert Rogin, 49, has been with us even longer and is the first SI managing editor to have climbed to the top from-the bottom rung of the editorial ladder. He started on the clip desk, cutting stories from the AP wire and from newspapers. Advancing to reporter and then staff writer, he quickly gained recognition as one of the best writers ever to appear in our pages. His stories ranged from a dark, plangent report on boxer Benny Paret's death in the prize ring to a hilarious account of 12 miserable days he spent at sea as a reluctant crewman on a racing yacht. A highly praised writer of fiction as well, he has had dozens of his short stories published in The New Yorker and elsewhere and is the author of two books. Named a senior editor in 1966, he moved up to assistant managing editor in 1974 and now becomes our fourth managing editor.