By Joyce DeWallace, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – According to Ellen Dolan, director of the Shrewsbury Public Library, Robert “Chief Joseph” Terkanian is one of the most generous and humble people she knows. Terkanian has just put the finishing touches on the landscaping, sculpture and art he donated to the newly renovated and expanded library building and grounds.
“He is the most amazing and generous-hearted man, who has given so much to this community,” Dolan said. “We are so grateful that he has done so much for our children’s services area.”
Terkanian watched the progress of the library project on cable television as it was rejected time after time. He followed the town’s leading citizens who had a positive vision of what could happen to the library.
“When I heard that the Building Committee had to put the Children’s Garden off, I said to myself, ‘Ooh, children – garden. I’ll do that,’” explained Terkanian. And so he did.
Terkanian prefers to operate out of the spotlight. His joy, he noted, comes from touching peoples’ lives. He loves to hear the “wows!” from children who discover his magical gardens. He loves to create spaces that lure people outdoors to enjoy nature. He loves inspirational messages that might touch someone and change a life. He loves seniors with spunk and a “live life every day” attitude.
“My greatest pleasure in life is the joy of giving,” he said. “You can’t take it with you. Helping others, bringing joy to others, brings back blessings tenfold. It’s so simple to have a positive attitude and to be grateful for what the Lord brings every day. That’s a blessing that’s been bestowed upon me and guides me in everything I do. Learn to give without expecting.”
Terkanian starts each day with inspirational and motivational readings. He practices his spiritual connections throughout the day, and winds up reading them out loud in the evening. He has filled his property with many signs encouraging positive thoughts and actions. He hands out pens with meaningful inscriptions and passes out slips of paper with words of wisdom. He has added plaques and posted signs at the library to share some of his favorite messages, including his “Alphabet of Life.” He loves acronyms with each letter having a special meaning for words like “peaceful” and “challenges.”
His attraction to motivational sayings started when he was a teenager.
“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” stated John F. Kennedy has been a guiding light for him.
“To those whom much is given, much is expected,” from the Gospel of Saint Luke in the Bible, has always resonated with him as well.
“Thirty-five years ago, I turned my life over to God, a higher power,” he explained. “I stopped drinking and became sober. Ever since, I’ve been blessed with enough income to give back to the community. I’ve been blessed with health. If you think about it, having your five senses to be able to enjoy every day is the greatest wealth.”