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Terrance "Terry" Balk

Terrance "Terry" Balk age 74, of Cedar Falls, IA, formerly of Waucoma, IA, died Sunday, January 1, 2023, at MercyOne Waterloo Medical Center. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, January 7, 2023, at St. Mary Catholic Church in Waucoma with Rev. Dan Knipper celebrating the Mass. Burial will be a later date. Friends may greet the family from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. Friday, January 6, 2023, at Hugeback - Johnson Funeral Home & Crematory in New Hampton, where there will be a 6:30 p.m .parish scripture service. Visitation continues an hour prior to the Mass at the church in Waucoma on Saturday. Terry was born on December 18, 1948, to Lawrence and Margaret (Sabelka) Balk in New Hampton and grew up on the family farm near Waucoma. He received his education at St. Mary's Catholic School before transferring to Turkey Valley, where he played basketball, the tuba in the band, and was a member of the Class of 1967. After graduating, he attended the University of Northern Iowa, where he majored in math and met another math student, Sharon Gerlich. They fell in love, and were married on August 7, 1971, at St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Calmar. Terry and Sharon took jobs at Amana Community Schools, where they taught math for nine years. Terry also coached both girls and boys basketball before moving to Waucoma to take over the family farm in 1981. Terry's plan was to teach for a few years at Fredericksburg and then farm full-time, but fortunately for thousands of students, this plan never became a reality. Terry made a huge impact on the faculty and students of Fredericksburg and, later in his career, Sumner-Fredericksburg. In addition to teaching math and driver's education for 36 years, he coached a variety of junior high sports teams. He had a way of making learning, as one student put it, "fun." Another student wrote that not only was Mr. Balk a great teacher, but he always set an example that made his students better people. Eric and Sarah will always remember the times he was there for them with sage advice, help with homework, or teaching them life lessons. To this day, they will tell you their father was the hardest-working person they have ever known. After Terry retired from Sumner-Fredericksburg, he taught for 8+ years at Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar. He also worked for the Lynch Barbeque Team with many catering events and enjoyed driving their motor coach bus around the country. To Terry, these "jobs" with Lynch were not work but more of a social event with people he considered like family. He excelled as "Papa" to his five grandchildren. The only thing that Terry was better at than being a Husband and Father, was him being "Papa" to his grandchildren. Terry loved playing with them and getting in trouble with them because he was a kid at heart. Terry and Sharon enjoyed traveling to places like Las Vegas, Wisconsin Dells, Branson and Deadwood several times a year. He was a longtime member of St. Mary's in Waucoma and attendee at St. Pat's Catholic Church in Cedar Falls, where he was an active member of the Knights of Columbus. This wonderful Husband, fantastic Father, terrific Papa, and tremendous teacher is gone way too soon. The lives he touched were many, as were the memories he made for all who had the good fortune to cross paths with Terry Balk. Terry is survived by his wife, Sharon of Cedar Falls; his son, Eric (Heather) Balk of Cedar Falls; his daughter, Sarah (Ryan) Ries of Cedar Falls; his grandchildren, Adreana Balk, Cole Ries, Morgan Ries, Abigail Balk, and Carter Balk; two brothers, Gary (Mary) Balk of Minneapolis, and Ken (Julie) Balk of West Union; and one sister, Sue Bentz of Burnsville, Minnesota. He was preceded in death by his parents; his son, Michael; and two brothers, Lawrence "Junior" and Charles in infancy.

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Memories Timeline


  1. He was a very good teacher. It was never a dull moment in his classroom. Thoughts and prayers to his family. -Jon and Kayla Schutte

  2. Mr Balk was truly one of the best teachers, and an all around great person. Hugs, prayers and sympathy to his family.

  3. Thoughts and prayers to his family. He was a wonderful teacher and I still use the ways he taught math to help my son! He was truly a gifted teacher.

  4. A good man gone too soon. Say hello to all the family and card club up in heaven :). Hugs to Sharon, Eric, Sara and their families

  5. Such a wonderful teacher and person. He had a way to make you learn in a fun way. He was just as fun and personable outside of the classroom. Loved having him as a teacher and coach. So sorry for your loss.

  6. Wouldn’t be the person I am today without the guidance of Mr. Balk. Be proud of the teacher and man he was. So sorry for your loss, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  7. “A tear holds our Joy, our Love, our Loss”.. 🥲. Tears shed for a great husband, dad, grandfather, relative and friend have a story of Joy, Love, and Loss. Terry will be sadly missed but fondly remembered💕. Bill and Karen

  8. I’m so sorry to hear about Terry’s passing. He was a great teacher/friend at FHS. My prayers are for you, Sharon, and your family.

  9. I am so sorry for your loss Eric and family! I am a distant relative in the Balk Family! My sister is Maxine Pavlovec Balk , wife of David Balk! May He Rest In Peace!

  10. We send our sincere condolences to the Balk family. Terry was an excellent teacher for our children.

  11. Our condolences to Terrys family. We were classmates at St. Mary’s in Waucoma and at Turkey Valley. We had a great time talking about old times at our recent class reunion last Fall. He was a great man. RIP

  12. Dear Sharon and Family,
    I am deeply saddened to learn of Terry’s death. I have fond memories of our high school years at Turkey Valley especially playing together in the band-he on the tuna, me on the French horn. Precious
    too, has been our reconnection these last years beginning at St. Patrick’s in Cedar Falls. I will offer a Mass for him in the coming days. God rest his good and gentle soul. My prayers too, for God’s comfort for each of you. Fr. Jim

  13. Great teacher and by example we learned to be better people too. Thank for the years of sharing him with all of us at FHS. Gather those precious memories close ..prayers sent.
    Dan and Pam Zabel

  14. just the sweetest soul gone way to soon. i love and miss you papa. i’ll never understand why god took you away from me so sudden and early. thank you for giving me the best childhood possible with all the little things you did for me. the log cabin we would make, the wizard of oz cards, eating at pizza ranch everywhere traveled, and blessing me with the best papa ever. you never gave up on me and did everything in your power to spend even 5 minutes with me. you are missed dearly, rest easy my sweet sweet papa.

  15. He was my favorite! He gave me my love for algebra and somehow found a way to make it all click. He had a picture I drew hanging behind his desk for at least 5 years, taught me drivers ed and let me sit in on his class while going to college. He will forever be ranked a favorite to me!

  16. So sad and sorry for you Sharon and your whole family. So glad we had all those coffee dates, was always fun with interesting discussions. Hugs to you.
    Bob and Wendy Van Gorp

  17. A great teacher and gone too soon! My prayers are with the family during this difficult time! Heaven gained and great one!!

  18. On behalf of the Catholic Daughters, we appreciated Terry’s input at the Christmas parties we played Bingo and he would spin that wire cage. I can picture him on his hands and knees, picking up a bunch of the little wooden balls that fell all over the floor.

  19. So sad, my condolences to all his family. Great jr high basketball coach, driver’s ed teacher, math teacher, and friend to all at Amana Schools and Amana community.

  20. Sharon and family.
    Please accept our condolences for Terry. It is so hard to believe. He always made working at a K of C function fun. We will miss his smile. Sharon, if there is anything we can do, please let us know.
    Sally and Darrell Ludwig

  21. Prayers to the family. Always loved talking to Terry, and my children were lucky enough to have him as one of their teachers. He is gone too soon and will be missed by many.
    Nancy Wegner

  22. Sharon, We met you at a dinner in Cedar Rapids. We sat down at your table and was surprised to meet someone from Turkey Valley. Come to find out you know my sister Mary Ann and Jean. Small world. Our deepest sympathy to you and your family. Alice and Bob Kuennen

  23. Our condolences and prayers to Sharon and family during this time. I enjoyed getting to know Terry and his family and doing business with him over the years.

  24. In Memory of and Thanks to Mr. Balk!

    For over 30 years now, I have been working as a statistician and a statistical software programmer. I owe my start in this career path to Mr. Balk– his understanding and encouragement of developing my math skills, despite my short-comings, is something I truly thank him for.

    -Mike Krizan
    Fredericksburg, Iowa, Class of ’85

  25. Dear Sharon and family,
    We were shocked & saddened to hear of your loss. We plan to share the news with Mom soon. I know she will be heart broken. You and Terry were such good friends to both Mom & Dad. Our arms are around you. We share your grief. Cindy, Julie, Amy and Carol VanCleave.

  26. What a magical man and teacher. He used a chalkstick wand to manifest numbers, curves, lines, and dots to his blackboard. He conjured mysterious math formulas and spoke them with doses of humor that could enchant his students. He planted magic brain beans (I think he’d like that term) that grew into fun memories, new skills, and great beginnings for many pupils. Mr. Balk posititively influenced so many kids, and I’m greatful we were blessed to have him in our lives.

    …I do think he kept the plastic army men I hid in his classroom, though.

    Steve Cahoy, FHS class of ’87,
    ISU ’92 Mechanical Engineering

  27. Sorry to hear of his passing. Our sympathies to the family.
    Mr. Balk, as I knew him, is one of my favorite teachers. Though his math classes could be challenging, the class would be interesting and many times fun. He is the reason I took math all 4 years of high school.
    Craig Bravener and family
    member of FHS class of 85

  28. My deepest sympathies to Mr. Balk’s family 😢💕 he was an amazing teacher! I remember him reading the answers as we checked her papers in math, and he would use different voices as he read the answers off, just to keep it interesting! I could always tell that he loved his job, and he cared about each of us💕 sending you all much love and hugs 💕

  29. Mr. Balk was my first mentor. He believed in me so much I even took calculus in high school! I then saw him him years later in church.As my family grew, it made me even more proud to express the math skills I learned from him to my kids. I will miss him always and think of him every time I help my kids with homework. He was my favorite!

  30. Sharon,
    So sorry to hear about Terry. It was always nice talking to him in the showroom. Great conversations!! Terry was one of my favorite customers! Sorry for your loss Sharon.
    Bryan Sheehy

  31. My deepest sympathy Sharon and all, I enjoyed waiting on him at the bank in New Hampton and meeting you. Sorry for your loss

  32. Terry and I went to UNI together and were rivals in high school, S. Winn vs. Turkey Valley. We became good friends forever and his wife Sharon was a high school classmate. I will miss my good friend.

  33. Sympathy to Terry’s family and friends. Terry participated in professional development with UNI throughout his career and I was able to get to know him through IMPACT. His students were very important to him and he went out of his way to give them resources.

  34. Sharon, Eric, Sarah, and families,
    So sorry to hear about Terry. He was a wonderful person and great neighbor on the farm. Keeping all of you in my thoughts and prayers!! With deepest sympathy,
    Jeff and Pat Sommerlot
    Marshalltown, Iowas

  35. I just learned of Mr. Balk’s passing. I was so sad to hear it. After a string of revolving-door math teachers in high school, Mr. Balk came along & rescued us with sound math knowledge, clarity and humor. We would beg him to do his “belly-dancing eyebrows” and always needled him to tell us how he managed to get that “hot girl” to marry him. (He never divulged.) He will always be remembered fondly.
    Elaine O’Connell Milewsky
    FHS 1982

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