March 13, 2024, is so special to myself and our family. It is the 25th anniversary of my Dad, Bill Terry aka Kurt Von Hess passing away. He was 56 years old. I think a lot of people are aware of how much my father meant to me. He was my best friend in life. To lose him was a devasting loss. We just got him home off the road eight years earlier, after wrestling for over 25 years. Having him home was all I ever wished for.

My father left behind a beautiful legacy in the wrestling industry, outranking many heavy hitters from that era. He was trained in Hamilton under Benny Lima and later Al Spittles in 1965. He debuted two weeks after I was born as Big Bill Terry in 1966. He fought King Curtis Iaukea, and it was a slaughter match, as the King would do.

Bill Terry in a feature bout on a card on January 12, 1970 in Kitchener, Ontario.

Bill Terry in a feature bout on a card on January 12, 1970 in Kitchener, Ontario.

My dad began his career slowly, starting in Hamilton, working his way to the Toronto, Pittsburg and Buffalo territories. As time went on, his matches increased. He took on the Kurt Von Hess gimmick in 1971 and the heel life began. He shaved his head, got some jack boots, black gear and a horse whip. His German accent was questionable, though, as I think he mainly got it from watching a lot of Hogan’s Heroes.

Over the years, he took us on the road with him. By my count, we moved 17 times over 10 years. The goal was to stay together — his wife/our mother Cathy, my sister Allison and myself — as much as we could. We were little kids and following my Dad’s dream as he lived and breathed wrestling. But also this profession put food on our table. My father put his heart and soul into his work. Blood, sweat and tears. He saw the world.

I have so many wonderful and also some not-so-good memories. Par for being on the road, we had no roots, no long-term friends and a Dad who is the biggest heel in town. Then moving and starting all over again.

He was a well-trained wrestler who could fit in any territory. He carried himself with professionalism and prided himself on that. He just worked hard. He didn’t get involved in the politics of wrestling and kept to himself. He would often help set up the ring rather than sit in the dressing room. And he was looking for a soft spot! Pretty smart! I think that’s why he was put over very well. He brought the heat. People hated him! And that is money. Especially when he was in a tag team, his partners included Donn Lewin (The Executioner), Eric The Red, John Quinn, Karl Von Shotz, Karl Von Brauner, Siegfried Stanke, Karl Von Krupp and Randy Colley.

The Germans Kurt Von Hess and Siegfried Stanke on a card on May 26, 1978 in Lafayette, Louisiana.

The Germans Kurt Von Hess and Siegfried Stanke on a card on May 26, 1978 in Lafayette, Louisiana.

When I was a kid, my Dad never spoke about wrestling in the house. We weren’t smartened up about kayfabe. We just had a 10-year adventure together. We didn’t know any other way than living on the road. I look back on it all and realize how fortunate I am to have had that nomad life. I got to see things the average kid would never see. And, now that I think about it, I did make some long-time friends, like the Anoi’a family, with Wild Samoan Afa like a second father to be, and his kids as my siblings — and that’s just one example.

Today, I carry my Dad’s legacy with honor. I make sure he is remembered with social media and anyone who will listen to me. I had the pleasure of being a guest speaker at the 2023 Cauliflower Alley Club convention, where I formed a trios tag team with JJ Dillon‘s daughter, Pamela Morrison, and Bruiser Brody‘s widow, Barbara Goodish, as we told our stories of family in wrestling. I have also spoken on several podcasts about our life.

Every person who met Kurt Von Hess had fear and hatred for him. Every person who ever met Bill Terry walked away a little richer just meeting him. I can still hear that distinct, gravely laugh he had, his big dimple smile and his voice of reason. It is so hard when you lose not only your parent but a one that was bigger than life. He is thought of with love each day.

You are so missed, Dad.



Paige Sutherland is the oldest daughter of the late Bill and Cathy Terry. She lives in Dundas, Ontario.