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Edwin and Gladys Turner

Making a Difference: Edwin and Gladys Turner

Posted: 01/08/2014

Roosevelt’s late Athletics Director Edwin Turner and his wife, Gladys (pictured at right), a former University librarian, devoted a combined 74 years of their lives to serving and supporting Roosevelt students. They retired in the 1980s, but their love for the University continues.

At her 100th birthday party on July 22, Gladys Turner announced the establishment of the Edwin and Gladys Turner Scholarship Fund for student athletes with financial need by making a $10,000 lead gift. in lieu of birthday presents, she asked her friends and family to contribute to the fund and help her reach $25,000, the amount needed to endow a scholarship.

Gladys Turner joined the library in March 1947 and devoted more than 40 years to serving students, faculty and staff. Jeffrey Ball, chief clerk in the Roosevelt library, was hired by her in 1982. He said, “She was proud of the University and the library and she made sure that those in the library showed respect for the facilities and for one another.”

Edwin Turner, who died in 2010, began his Roosevelt career in 1946 and spent 34 years developing and running the physical education program and athletics department. He was an outstanding athlete who coached basketball, bowling, golf, soccer, tennis, and track and field. He attended nearly every game the teams played. Turner believed that sports helped to educate the whole individual and helped prepare students for some of the many difficult situations they would encounter in life.

And the coach personally knew about difficult life situations. When he began at Roosevelt, he was the only black man in the country who was coaching an integrated basketball team and the only black coach in a conference with 11 other schools including DePaul, Loyola and IIT. However, he never complained and never called attention to the slights or unequal treatment he suffered because of his race. Ron Johnson, a good friend and fellow fraternity brother, said, “Edwin brought a record of achievements, a spirit of brotherhood, a focus on civic responsibility and the class of a gentleman to their fraternity.”

Gladys’ 100th birthday party was a joyous occasion, as she held court while friends, neighbors and admirers came to share in her celebration. Chuck Middleton, president of Roosevelt University, paid homage to both Gladys and Edwin. Johnson read a tribute from the mayor of Highland Park, Ill., where she lives, and Mike Cassidy, Roosevelt’s current athletic director, recognized the legacy of Coach Turner and noted that he has “very large shoes to fill.” He said that even today, conversations with alumni invariably turn to Coach Turner and the impact he had in their lives and their success.

Like Edwin and Gladys Turner, you too can have a dramatic impact on Roosevelt students. To donate to the edwin and Gladys Turner Scholarship Fund, mail your donation to Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 818, Chicago, iL 60605. You can also donate online at www.roosevelt.edu/Turner.