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Terrance “Terry” McCaffrey

Volunteer Lawyer leader McCaffrey found passion in helping others

Before he died, Terrance “Terry” McCaffrey was able to legally marry his longtime partner and continue his work helping the disadvantaged – a job he truly loved.

McCaffrey, 55, died Thursday, six months after being diagnosed with lung cancer, said his husband, Gregory Manifold.

A lifelong resident of Fort Wayne except for the years he attended Indiana University, McCaffrey had been the executive director of the Volunteer Lawyer Program of Northeast Indiana for the past five years.

The organization was formed in 2002 and does pro bono work for local residents who need legal services but cannot afford to hire an attorney.

“It was an ideal match for him,” Manifold said. “I have worked in the not-for-profit industry for my whole life, but I was so impressed and inspired by his passion. I'm so glad he found it.”

Although McCaffrey was undergoing grueling chemotherapy treatments every morning, he went to work in the afternoons, Manifold said.

“Terry loved to make a contribution and was one tough cookie,” he said.

“He liked knowing he could make a difference in the lives of people who did not have all the advantages.”

After being diagnosed, McCaffrey worked ahead, especially writing grants for the Volunteer Lawyer Program.

“He was really trying to make sure he stayed ahead of the deadlines, so if he got sick, it would already be done,” Manifold said.

McCaffrey was president of the Arena Dinner Theatre board of directors and was a founding member of the Southside Garden Club.

In addition to serving as president of the Arena Dinner Theatre board of directors, he also worked on local economic development projects and for the Fort Wayne Urban Enterprises Association, Manifold said.

The couple were married one week before McCaffrey died.

“We got married June 26,” one day after a federal court judge struck down Indiana's gay marriage ban and one day before a stay was ordered on the ruling, Manifold said.

It was the culmination of a “very long, long engagement,” since the couple had been together for nearly 31 years, he said.

A family man who loved people, McCaffrey is survived by his mother and four sisters, with whom he “was very close,” Manifold said.

Born to an Italian mother and Irish father, McCaffrey was very social and never met a stranger, according to Manifold.

McCaffrey was a fabulous chef who loved to create great food, and their home was often filled with friends and family, he said.

“We had a party on our 25th anniversary of being together, and when Terry turned 50, and there were 140 people in our backyard,” Manifold said.

McCaffrey liked to travel, mostly in the United States, although the couple traveled to England once, Manifold said.

“I liked to visit museums and historical sites of interest, and Terry would go with me and tolerate that for a while,” Manifold said.

“But he loved it when he could hit a sandy beach and stay in the nice, warm sun with a margarita in hand; that was his idea of a vacation.”