Fred and Betty Turner

Fred H. Turner Portrait, 1939

Fred H. Turner (1939)

Fred H. Turner WWI Draft Card

Fred H. Turner WWI Draft Card

Fred Harold Turner was born in Hume, Illinois March 22, 1900.   In 1903, he moved to Tuscola with his father Frank J. Turner, mother Luela, and older brother John.  Turner graduated from Tuscola High School in 1918 and was accepted into the Chemistry program at the University of Illinois starting that fall.  He first arrived on campus a dusty June day in 1918.  Because of a trolley strike at the time, Turner walked from the ICRR station in Champaign to the university.  While living in Tuscola, he worked for the Farmers and Traders Bank as a clerk, but after he started his degree that September, Turner accepted a new job on campus as a clerk for the Dean of Men, Thomas Arkle Clark, at 10 cents an hour.  He kept this job throughout his undergraduate studies and was promoted to chief clerk his Junior year.

As Turner neared graduation, he had aspirations to go to medical school but could not afford the program.  His boss, Dean Clark, assuaged Turner to accept the position of Assistant Dean of Men with the caveat he continued his education at the university.  He agreed and held the position until 1931 whilst he earned a master’s degree in psychology (1926) and a PhD in Education (1931).

Fred and Betty Turner

Fred and Betty Turner

During his MA studies in Psychology Fred married Elizabeth “Betty” Weaver on June 1, 1924 in Marion County, Indiana.  Betty was born July 17, 1901 to Ray and Ethel Weaver.  The 1910 census shows the Weavers living in Tuscola, Illinois with Elizabeth and her younger half-brother Raymond.  After Fred and Betty married, they moved to 507 W Washington Street in Urbana where they raised two daughters, Joanne and Sally.

After Fred completed his PhD, Dean Clark retired and Fred was promoted from Assistant Dean to Dean of Men in 1932.   He remained in this position until 1943, when the university restructured their dean system so the Deans’ of Men and Women were under a Dean of Students.  Turner was promoted to the new Dean of Students post and stayed there until his retirement in 1966.  After retiring, he remained a part of the university as the chairman of the University Centennial Committee where he helped plan the anniversary celebration in 1968.  After the centennial committee, he maintained his office on campus and continued to visit five days a week to organize and archive his papers from his fifty-year career.  Turner was known as a University historian by this time and became a popular speaker for the alumni club.

University of Illinois Alumni Association membership card

University of Illinois Alumni Association membership card

Along with establishing and organizing various offices, services, and functions to assist students as Dean, Turner was also active in fraternal and professional organizations, wrote freelance articles for the Saturday Evening Post and the Chicago Tribune, and was associate editor of Banta’s Greek Exchange, a nationally circulated magazine for fraternities and sororities.

Portrait of Fred H. Turner

Portrait of Fred H. Turner

On September 6, 1975 Fred died suddenly while vacationing at his summer home in Shelby, IL at the age of 75.  The former Dean of Students left an indelible legacy in Champaign-Urbana and at the University of Illinois for his years of commitment and dedication to the university and Illinois history.  His legacy is honored on campus through the Fred H. Turner Student Services building and the Fred H. Turner Fellowship.  Beyond his accomplishments at the University of Illinois, Turner was also well known locally as a pianist, railroad enthusiast, and of course as an artist of woodblock prints, which he made with his wife Betty as Christmas cards every year from 1946-1974.

Fred and Betty Turner