Cover photo for Sherman Robards's Obituary
1939 Terry 2024

Sherman Robards

October 7, 1939 — May 23, 2024

Upper Jay

Sherman Marshall “Terry” Robards of Upper Jay, NY, author of The New York Times Book of Wine, journalist, editor, wine critic and radio show host, died peacefully at home on May 23, 2024, surrounded by his family. 

Born in New York City on October 7, 1939, he was the eldest child of Sydney Marshall and Louise Sherman Robards.  He grew up in Westchester County with his parents and sister Brooks.  Terry attended Pleasantville, NY public schools and excelled at  football, track and field, setting the Pleasantville High School long jump record at over 21 feet in 1957.  The summer after graduating from PHS,  Terry worked as a page for RCA in NY City, where his father was vice president of public relations.  His biggest thrill was stopping traffic and ushering the movie star Joan Crawford across the street in midtown Manhattan to Rockefeller Plaza.  

Terry attended Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, and he majored in Literature and French.  While at Hamilton, he wrote for the school and local newspapers covering collegiate sports, often having his articles picked up by the Associated Press.  After graduating in the class of 1961 Terry married Susan Lee Hayes and together they raised two sons, John Marshall Robards and Jeffery Sherman Robards.  The family made their home in Bronxville, NY, and spent summers at their cabin "Camp Osprey" on Big Wolf Lake in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate NY.  He was an avid fisherman and enjoyed hiking, having completed 41 of the 46 High Peaks.

Terry began writing at a young age and knew he would be a journalist, when at the age of 13, he had his first article published in the sporting magazine "Fur, Fish, Game."  After college he was hired by the Ossining News in White Plains, NY, and from there he embarked on a long and distinguished career in journalism.

By 1962 Terry was hired by the New York Herald Tribune as a financial writer covering the automotive industry.   The job came with many perks for a car enthusiast; he was able to bring his son Jeff home from the hospital in a Rolls Royce and  he had the privilege of driving Studebaker’s prototype sports car, the Avanti, at the Bonneville Salt Flats.  In April of 1964, the Ford Mustang was revealed to the nation's automotive journalists and Terry was the first to take the new model for a spin up Pikes Peak.  

The following year, while vacationing in the Bahamas, Terry met and interviewed the Beatles.  His article, titled "The Beatle Biz" was published in the Sunday Herald Tribune in March of 1965.  After the Herald Tribune folded, Terry spent a year with Fortune Magazine where he found that he missed the excitement of writing under a daily deadline.  He was hired by The New York Times in 1967 as a financial writer and was soon assigned to cover campaign finances for the 1968 Democratic Primary Election Campaign.  He was later named the New York Times Employee of The Month for his coverage of the assassination of Robert F Kennedy.

 In the early 1970s Terry was promoted to the position of Editor of the Sunday Times Business Section.  These were the years that he developed his passion and knowledge of fine wine and food.   He parlayed his expertise into a nightly radio show on WQXR FM, called "The Topic Is Wine."

In 1973  Terry moved with his wife Susan and their two sons John and Jeffrey, to London where he became a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He covered British economic news, the IRA war, and in an interview on BBC Television in August 1974, he correctly predicted the resignation of US President Richard M Nixon.

 Having developed a reputation as a leading expert on wine, Terry was given a contract to write the New York Times Book of Wine before leaving for London.  He used his time abroad to visit the top wineries in France, Italy and Germany to research his book which quickly became the preeminent tome on the subject.  After the book was published in 1976, Terry was named the New York Times wine columnist upon returning to New York, a position he held until 1983 when he took the same job with The New York Post. Terry's second book, Terry Robards New Book of Wine was published in 1984. 

Terry's wine columns were syndicated in 17 newspapers across the nation; he had a weekly column in the Christian Science Monitor, was a monthly columnist for Wine Spectator, Bon Appetit, Where NY and many other publications. He was a member of the Wine Writers Guild of NY and a columnist and Senior Managing Editor of Wine Enthusiast magazine.  

In 1988 Terry moved full time to  the Adirondack Mountains and opened Terry Robards Wines and Spirits in Lake Placid, NY, a business that thrives to this day. 

Terry was a celebrated member of the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, Burgundian Wine Society, and at the time of his death was the longest standing member in the United States.  He was also an honored member of the Commanderie de Bordeaux and a founding member of L'ordine Della Vite Italian Wine Society.  In 2012, Terry was inducted into the Wine Media Guild -Wine Writers Hall of Fame, and his collection of research, wine correspondence and important papers is now held at the University California Davis - Wine Writers Museum. 

 Terry Robards is survived by his wife Julie P. Robards of Upper Jay, NY, his sons John Robards (Poppy Baldwin Robards) of Westchester County, NY,  and Jeffrey Robards (Gretchen Goodling Robards) of Hingham, MA , two grandsons Nathaniel Sherman Robards and Cooper Baxter Robards, a stepson Timothy Robinson, sister Brooks Robards and brother-in-law Jim Kaplan of North Hampton, MA, father and mother-in-law  Richard and Rebecca Pelletier of Fayette, ME, a sister-in-law Lori Beth Bonnevie and her husband Barry of Fayette, ME, three other stepchildren, 15 step- grandchildren and 4 step- great grandchildren.  

A visitation and celebration of life will be held at Heidrick- Zaumetzer Funeral Home, 3 College Street,  AuSable Forks, NY on Saturday, June 22, 2024, from 1:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon.  

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Sherman Robards, please visit our flower store.

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