Terry Titus is not what you might imagine when you picture an opera singer. He has spent his life working as a general contractor and enjoys hunting, wood turning and golf but in his late teens and early 20s he was offered the opportunity to perform in conservatories at Carnegie Hall.
Titus was born and raised in the small farming town of Mullica Hill, N.J. He spent most of his formative years doing what most young boys do: playing baseball and football. A few things set Titus apart from his peers however, his travel experience and his love for singing.
Titus said that at the young age of 13, he was able to spend six months in northern Africa and southern Europe with his grandfather. Titus said that his family’s culture is very diverse. His grandfather was a Greek born in Alexandria, Egypt, who migrated to the states with an eighth grade education and his grandmother was Italian.
“My grandfather met my grandmother while in Connecticut, and that’s what started everything,” Titus said. “They opened a restaurant in southern New Jersey that operated for 35 years. It served both Greek and Italian food.”
Titus said that he believes that a combination of quality public education and a family with a rich culture provided him with a strong foundation for his future. He says that his trip overseas with his grandfather was an irreplaceable experience.
‘That was a wonderful, life-changing experience,” Titus said. “My homework assignment from the New Jersey Board of Education was to put on a slide presentation of my time overseas. I took 3,500 slides and put on a four hour presentation for the school. Not many 13-year-olds can say that they got to spend six months overseas.”
Titus said that he spent most of his high school years studying music. He found his niche in classical opera.
“I spent four or five years with a private voice teacher who was also my choral teacher in school.” Titus said. “I was ultimately trained in opera. I got the opportunity to audition for two conservatories at Carnegie Hall and was accepted at both but I couldn’t afford to go.”
Instead Titus graduated from high school with honors and was offered an ROTC scholarship that led him to Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. He continued to sing and perform but didn’t pursue it professionally.
After graduation he decided he wanted to carry on a family tradition.
“When I left Wake Forest I decided to go back to my roots,” Titus said. “My grandfather on my father’s side and his father were general contractors and I decided that’s what I wanted to do too. I was brought to Yadkin County and offered the opportunity to work in construction. I helped develop the commercial side of a local business.”
Titus said he spent 17 years working as vice president and commercial management for the firm before he decided to venture out on his own.
“In 1994 I went out on my own and started a general construction firm in Yadkin County and I worked on my own for 14 years before retiring in 2008,” Titus said.
As a self-employed contractor, Titus worked building and remodeling homes and building furniture. In the 1970s he worked with Jacobs Brothers Construction as a foreman during the construction of Hanes Mall.
After retiring, Titus found himself with more time to spend with his mother, his daughter, his life partner, Rhonda, and her son. He says he still loves to travel and has been to every state in the U.S. but one. He particularly enjoys his opportunities to share his travels with his daughter.
Titus said has always felt a strong calling to give back to his community. He became the charter president of the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce, served as charter president of the Yadkinville Rotary Club, served as a board member for the Upper Yadkin Valley Habitat For Humanity and countless other boards and committees along the way.
Titus said that he truly enjoys his time working with the Rotary Club because of the many efforts the organization represents across the globe.
“Rotary continues to amaze me because it touches more lives, does more good in the world and shows the ordinary person that they can be a part of what changes the lives of people who need us the most,” Titus said.
Titus said that he feels that service is the most important thing that a human being can offer the world. He thinks that every person should find some area of service that interests them and set aside time to give towards the betterment of the world around them.
“We sometimes forget that our biggest assets in life are ourselves and our service,” Titus said. “To me, these assets are the core of our existence, and we should be thankful for every day that we are alive and enjoy the freedoms of this great country.”
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at email@example.com.