Former R-MA president Turner dies, remembered as financial savior, mentor

COL Trevor D. Turner, USA (Ret.)
Col. Trevor D. Turner was President of Randolph-Macon Academy in Front Royal, VA from 1980 to 1997. Col. Turner arrived during a time of dire financial straits and presided over a period of dramatic turnaround, seeing the addition of an academic building, a girls dormitory and dining hall, a new middle school campus and a four-fold increase in enrollment, paving the way for a new focus on overall quality. Col. Turner died Wed. February 24. Courtesy photo/Cindy Rodney, R-MA Photography.

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

FRONT ROYAL, VA – Feb. 26, 2010 – Former Randolph-Macon Academy President Col. Trevor D. Turner died Wed. Feb. 24.

A retired Army chaplain, Turner came to R-MA in 1980 and served as president for 17 years, arriving during a time of extreme financial hardship for the school. During his tenure, the school saw the addition of a new girls dormitory, an academic building and a middle school. In 1995, only two months after the opening of the middle school campus, R-MA’s main administration and dormitory building was severely damaged by a fire that rendered it uninhabitable. Students were sent home and eventually housed at the local Super 8 Motel while reconstruction began on the building which retains the historic facade, dating back to the 1920s.

In an email to the R-MA community, current president Maj. Gen. Henry M. Hobgood described Turner as having served with distinction. “He will be missed by all,” he said.

Like most military-oriented schools, especially in Virginia, R-MA suffered a severe enrollment decline during the post-Vietnam 1970s.

R-MA Chief Financial Officer Joan Burke, who began working as the school’s mail clerk in 1977,  remembered Turner as a financial savior for the school.

“He took R-MA over during a time of financial crisis and brought it back to be a viable and successful institution. It was a true financial crisis for the school.  He was always very proud to have brought it back to a solid financial condition,” she said.

Burke described Turner as having laid the foundation for quality improvements that would follow.

“We were truly on the brink of ruin–very bad shape. He left a solid foundation for Gen. Hobgood to build on in terms of overall quality. That would not have been possible had Col. Turner not built up the financial aspects,” she said.

Front Royal attorney Joseph Silek, Jr., who joined R-MA’s board of trustees in the mid 1990s and is currently the board’s chairman, spoke in a similar vein. “Col. Turner led us out of some very bleak financial times and brought us to where we could focus on quality without the thought of financial ruin looming over our heads,” he said.

Burke also thinks of Turner as a professional and personal mentor.

“I learned a lot from him. He always believed in me as a person. He taught me a lot about managing a business and a lot about people. That’s what I remember most about him on a personal level. He always believed in me,” she said.

According to the academy’s web site, enrollment was 118 around the time Turner arrived and grew to an all-time high of 508 by 2002.

Col. Turner retired from R-MA in 1997.

The school says that funeral arrangements are not finalized but anticipates a service at Turner’s church in Fredericksburg, VA on Mar. 20 and internment at Arlington National Cemetery on Mar. 22.

Located in Front Royal, VA, Randolph-Macon Academy is a private co-educational boarding and day school with an Air Force JROTC  program for grades 9-12 and a civilian middle school housed on an adjacent campus. The school began with 42 students in 1892.

Dan McDermott is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Warren County Report and The Sherando Times. He worked at Randolph-Macon Academy from 1990 to 1999. He was hired by Col. Turner as an assistant officer in charge and became a teacher and then Director of Communications before leaving to start his own business.

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One comment

  1. When we arrived with our son for summer enrollment at
    RMA we were ready to leave due to the condition of the facility. It was totally run down and needed an enormous amount of refurbushing.

    Some five years later, the whole facility had received a facelift with more and more parents involved in this effort. We had a home furnishing/interior design business and we were priviledged to be a part of this make-over.

    Col.Turner and Lois Turner were a pleasure to be associated with and we send Lois our sincere sympathy. Jerry & Joyce

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