Terry was raised in Saddleworth, the eldest of two children. Shortly after his younger sister was born, his father died of a heart attack and his sister later died of scarlet fever as a child. In 1939, Terry was working as a junior clerk at solicitors office Talbot and Jones in central Manchester, where he met 15 year old Fay Grimshaw who had started work at the firm as a newly qualified secretary.
Romance soon blossomed between Terry and Fay, although Terry was shy and slow to make a move. Talbot and Jones office was destroyed in December 1940 during the Manchester Blitz and most of Fay's large family were wiped out during the same air raid. Terry later found Fay with her sister Elsie in Coronation Street and revealed he had been offered another position at a solicitors in Saddleworth and invited Fay to come and join him as his wife. The pair were married the following year and had two children together, Bernard and Sandra.