Thomas Tellef Terjesen

April 21, 1938 ~ May 9, 2020 (age 82)


Thomas “Tom” Tellef Terjesen, 82, of Westerly, RI, beloved husband of 57 years to Barbara (Juers) Terjesen, passed away at home surrounded by his loving family on May 9, 2020. 

Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, on April 21, 1938, Tom was the eldest child of the late Tellef and Shirley Terjesen. He is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School in New York City and studied engineering at City College of New York. He proudly served in the United States Army Reserves from 1960 to 1966.

Tom began his career at American Machine and Foundry in Stamford, Connecticut. He later joined his father at Yardney Electric Corporation in New York City.  Tom and his family made Westerly their permanent home when Yardney moved its operations to Pawcatuck, Connecticut in 1970. 

In 1983, Tom co-founded Plainfield, Connecticut-based BST Systems, Inc., a company that develops and manufactures high-performance batteries for military and aerospace applications. BST was a source of great pride and personal accomplishment for Tom. He treated his employees and colleagues with respect and care as he worked alongside them developing battery cells. Over his 32 years with the company, he served in different capacities, including as chairman, president, head scientist, and director until his retirement at age 77. 

A lifelong learner and an avid reader, Tom held the value of education in highest regard. Physics and History books were scattered throughout his home. His love of science pushed him to challenge himself, even in retirement, as he completed advanced courses in physics and mathematics. 

Tom was passionate about baseball. Whether as a player in his younger years, as a Little League coach to his son, Tom, or as a fan of his beloved New York Yankees, the game brought him great joy. He especially enjoyed watching his Yankees play against the Red Sox with his favorite Boston fan, son-in-law Rudy.
Later in life, Tom found joy in the art of cooking. If it wasn’t baseball or football season, a cooking channel was typically playing on his television. Tom working the grill was a regular sight on many happy occasions. Tom and Barbara annually hosted his favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, to a full house of family and friends, who always felt welcomed in their home. 

Tom embraced his Norwegian heritage with a love for the ocean. Throughout his life, he shared many memorable moments while fishing, boating and cruising with family and friends. He especially loved traveling to Norway with his much-adored sisters.  
In addition to his wife, Tom leaves his loving children, Lynn Schaufler and her husband Rudy of Westerly, and Thomas “Tom” Terjesen of Canterbury, Connecticut.  He was lovingly known as “Pop Pop” to his five grandchildren: Samantha and Stefanie Schaufler; Nicole and Michael Terjesen and Katelyn Minski. 

Tom leaves two sisters, Nancy Woltman of Bennington, Vermont, and Linda Houlihan Marotta and her husband Joseph Marotta of Narragansett. He was an adored uncle to several nieces and nephews.

Tom was predeceased by his brother-in-law and closest friend, Joseph F. Houlihan.

The marriage Tom and Barbara shared was one based on true love and respect for each other. Together they raised a loving family, which proved the greatest part of his legacy. 

Unhesitatingly supportive to so many, Tom was generous, hardworking and selfless. His memory will be held in the hearts of his friends and family forever.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all services will be held privately at River Bend Cemetery.  Buckler-Johnston Funeral Home in Westerly is assisting the family with arrangements.

A celebration of Tom’s life will be held at a date and time to be announced in the future.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in his name to The Gary Sinise Foundation ( or the Warm Center in Westerly.

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