Bachelor of Science, Pennsylvania State University, 1931. Doctor of Laws, MacMurray College, 1972. Doctor of Fine Arts (honorary), National College, 1980.
Doctor of Fine Arts (honorary), University Illinois, 1984.
A first-generation Italian-American, Terra earned a chemical engineering degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1931, and founded Lawter Chemicals in Chicago in 1940. The success of his global enterprise enabled him to pursue his cultural interests, assembling an art collection and participating in several Chicago arts institutions. He worked as an apprentice in his family"s shop while studying chemistry.
Through his undergraduate thesis research, he discovered a new ink vehicle, which allowed printing presses to run faster than ever before, leading to the creation of Life magazine, the first news-picture publication.
Terra was finance chairman of Ronald Reagan"s 1980 Presidential campaign and was rewarded by being named the United States" first and only Ambassador at Large for Cultural Affairs, serving in that post from 1981-1907-15 to 1989-1901-27. He founded the Terra Museum of American Art, which after his death became the object of a court case when his widow attempted to have the museum moved from Chicago, Illinois to Washington, District of Columbia The museum subsequently closed to be merged with the Art Institute of Chicago.
Founder, chairman, board directors Terra Museum American Art, Chicago and Evanston, Illinois, Musée Américain Giverny, France. Chairman Terr Foundation for Arts. Past vice president, member executive committee United Republican Fund Illinois, president, 1973-1979.
Past chairman Everett Dirksen 500 Club. National finance chairman Ronald Reagan for President of the United States campaign, 1979-1980. Co-chairman President's Task Force for the Arts and Humanities, 1981-1982.
Member President's Committee for Arts and Humanities, 1982-1989. Board directors Chicago Lyric Opera. Ex officio trustee National Gallery Art, Washington.
Member of Westmoreland Country (Wilmette, Illinois). Chicago (Chicago), Commercial (Chicago), Chicago Mid-America (Chicago), Casino (Chicago). Indian Hill (Winnetka, Illinois).
National Arts (New York City), Links (New York City).
Married Adeline Evans Richards, August 7, 1937 (deceased 1982). Children: Penny Jane (deceased), James D. Married Judith Anne Farabee, June 27, 1986.