Throughout Terryl House’s career—from wartime airstrips to the College of Dentistry and fascinating points in-between—he’s always had a knack for becoming that “go-to” guy.
The technology guru and jack-of-all-trades has a long record of being difficult to replace. When health issues in 1993 forced him to leave his role as crew chief overseeing fighter jets in wartime Iraq, his supervisor “would not let me leave until they sent four people to replace me,” he says.
Such focus and a strong work ethic were first instilled during his youth while helping his grandfather mow lawns in New Orleans. He says he quickly learned about customer service and how to get the job done not only right but quickly.
Through his IT roles over the years, House realized end users counted on him to help them out of a bind. Often, they were unhappy that computer issues were slowing them down. When he arrived, he made it a point to not only remedy the problem but also lighten the mood.
“If you throw salt at me, I’m going to throw sugar back,” he says. “And I’m just trying to live by that.”
Empathy and insight into others’ predicaments became his trademark.
“I used to tell the guys when I worked in a law firm—because law firms move fast—‘You’ve got 15 minutes. If you can’t fix it, go get somebody else, but do not sit at someone’s desk for more than 15 minutes.’”
When House was set to retire from the dental school in late 2019, he agreed to stay an extra month to help with troubleshooting IT setup in the new Clinic and Education Building.
“There’s something about me with customer service. If you’re sitting there frowning and I walk into your office, I’m trying to turn that into a smile by helping you get what you need,” he says.
Freshly retired on Jan. 31, House has already moved on. He envisions daytrips to Hill Country wineries, perhaps a Viking cruise down European rivers—only to return to his new Buda home with expansive views, walking trails and a nearby lazy river to float the days away with his wife, grown children and grandkids.
He says he won’t be at all surprised, or unhappy, if word travels fast around his new neighborhood about his mad technology skills and willingness to help.
Here’s more about House, in his own words.
Title: Clinical Applications & Operations Specialist II
Average workday before retirement: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. I got involved with procuring new equipment. If they brought in a new scanner or something, I contacted the vendor, found out what the device was all about, explained how to integrate it, then most of the time did the integration. A lot of folks called me because I knew their system.
When you started working at the College of Dentistry: July 30, 2007
Favorite part of your job: Helping people solve technical issues. I enjoy working with people.
Something we may not know about you: I am a two-time cancer survivor and spent 21 years in the U.S. Air Force.
Anything else you’d like to add: I enjoyed most of my time here at the dental school. I watched many people come and go. I am delighted to know that through my service, I have helped them progress in their careers.