Terry B. Mobley – whose association with the University of Kentucky as a famed basketball player and groundbreaking leader of its fundraising efforts spanned more than five decades – passed away early Monday morning after a long illness.
Mobley, 74, was surrounded by family members and loved ones at his passing. He is survived by his loving wife of 40 years, Becky; son, Steve Stone (spouse, Leslie; children: Greer, Caroline and Lindsey Stone); daughter, Mary Beth (child: Hannah Richard); brother Tony Mobley (Betty) and nephew, Derek. He was preceded in his passing by his son, Christopher (spouse Barbara; children Jack and Reese and their mother Mindy).
The Harrodsburg, Kentucky, native first earned renown as a member of the University of Kentucky Wildcats under Adolph Rupp from 1962-1965. The three-year starter garnered national attention when his 15-footer with four seconds left propelled No. 2 UK to an 81-79 win over rival Duke University during the Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans.
Lexington Herald-Leader columnist Mark Story proclaimed the pressure-packed shot as one of the 25 greatest clutch baskets in UK’s storied basketball history.
But the self-effacing Mobley didn’t talk much about his exploits on the hardwood, preferring brevity, quick wittedness and homespun humor, along with a devotion to his family and his faith.
“I served with Terry on the Board of Trustees for some time before I ever knew he was one of Rupp’s players, and I never heard about it from Terry,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “His focus was on service to the University, to his community, to his faith and to his family. His wise, quiet and private counsel was a source of great comfort and help to me in my first years at UK. He always put the institution and its needs first, and I knew that when he spoke publicly, which was rare, that it was coming from a place of considerable reflection, thought and years of knowledge about the University and the Commonwealth.”
After graduation, Mobley – who earned a bachelor’s degree in history – worked several years for IBM before joining UK in its fledgling development office. In 1977, he was named the University’s chief development officer.
In a little more than 20 years, annual cash gifts to UK increased from $3.1 million to nearly $61 million. Mobley also oversaw the University's first capital campaign, which ultimately raised a little more than $1 billion. UK was the first public university to raise more than $1 billion in its first-ever capital campaign and the 31st overall to raise that amount of money.
“Terry Mobley is the consummate gentleman and a true Kentuckian, who dedicated his adult life with passion and purpose to the University of Kentucky,” said Jim Stuckert, a former UK trustee, classmate and close friend of Mobley’s. “For more than 40 years, he represented UK and our state with honesty, credibility and integrity – traits that have always been his calling card. He will be missed by all who have the had the honor to have crossed his path.”
“Terry has been part of the UK family – and my life – since the 1960s,” said Myra Tobin, a former UK trustee and longtime friend. “Everyone knows him for his devotion to UK, to the community, and to the Commonwealth. All of those things are true. For so many people, he symbolized what it means to be part of the University of Kentucky. For me, I will remember him for being like the brother I never had.”
During his tenure at UK, Mobley also was called on to play a number of other important administrative roles when his University needed him. In 33 years, Mobley served as director of development and chief development officer, interim athletic director, vice president for development and vice president for institutional advancement, overseeing various external affairs units for the university.
“As a still new president, Terry stepped in to serve as my interim AD during some very trying days. His high moral character, steady hand and always strong leadership solidified the department,” said Lee T. Todd Jr., UK’s 11th president. “When we embarked upon our first-ever $1 billion capital campaign, Terry led that successful initiative, which changed the culture of the University. It made us believe not only in our mission to be one of America’s leading universities, but in our role as a leader for the Commonwealth in addressing its most compelling challenges. Terry was through and through UK and will be sorely missed.”
“There isn't a part of UK athletics that Terry didn't touch -- student-athlete, athletics director, fundraiser, trustee,” said UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart. “Terry spent his entire adult life helping UK Athletics and the University that he loved so much. As a man dedicated to his family and his faith, he epitomized what we mean when we talk about the idea of servant leadership. We offer our condolences to Terry’s family.”
At UK, Mobley also served on the board of the Business Partnership Foundation, Gluck Equine Research Foundation, Center on Aging Foundation, Mining Engineering Foundation, and the UK Development Council.
In 2005, the Terry B. Mobley Philanthropy Awards were established. The annual awards are designed to recognize staff who have demonstrated outstanding performance and professional achievement in the philanthropy profession at UK.
“Terry Mobley’s gifts and talents greatly influenced the culture and outreach of the University of Kentucky for nearly 40 years,” said Mike Richey, UK’s vice president for philanthropy. “His legacy of leadership, vision and service will continue to influence and impact the institution and our state for generations.”
As a devoted alum, Mobley served on the UK National Alumni Board for more than 30 years, beginning in 1977, and was a recipient of the UK Alumni Distinguished Service Award.
Mobley was named to the UK Board of Trustees in 2010 as an alumni trustee, serving six years. During his tenure on the board, he served as chair of the Human Resources and University Relations committee and a member of the Executive, Finance, and University Athletics committees.
“No one was more respected or listened to more closely as a leader and board member than Terry Mobley,” said UK Board Chair Britt Brockman. “When Terry spoke, we knew he was choosing his words carefully and thoughtfully. We knew that they came from a place of considerable experience and understanding of UK. And we knew that he always – always – was placing the University of Kentucky first as he knew better than most the institution’s singular importance to the Commonwealth.”
Mobley’s service extended deeply into the community as well. He served on the boards of the Hope Center and Virginia Place, which provide shelter, recovery and educational programming for men and women. Mobley and his wife, Becky, were longtime members of Calvary Baptist Church, where he served in a number of leadership capacities.
Milward on Broadway in Lexington is handling arrangements, with services taking place at Calvary Baptist Church. Time of services is pending.
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