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Former Garrett-Evangelical Business Officer Creates Internship Fund to Honor His Late Wife

Former Garrett-Evangelical Business Officer Creates Internship Fund to Honor His Late Wife

Jack Turner created the Jack and Sandy Turner Endowed Mission Internship Fund at Garrett-Evangelical for several reasons. To begin with, he wanted to honor his late wife, Sandy Turner, who spent her adult life helping and inspiring others through her work as a math teacher and later a professor.

Secondly, he wanted to encourage Garrett-Evangelical students to grow and fulfill their vocations, the same way he and Sandy did. The money from the fund will help Garrett-Evangelical students who would like to experience how it feels to be in mission beyond the local congregation. It may also be used to help African and international students afford seminary.

"My hope is the mission internship will encourage students to consider other service that strives to make a meaningful difference in the world," Turner said. "The fund is meant to encourage others the same way Sandy and I encouraged each other."

Turner created the fund through outright gifts and gift annuities. He decided to take out three gift annuities with Garrett-Evangelical because he said they were beneficial to both the seminary and the donor. "Additionally, I saw it as a way to build the endowment of our mission internship because the initial gift value and the remainder become added endowment principal," he said.

Turner's call to mission emerged while he was in high school and junior college. "I felt a call to Christian vocation, but not as a pastor," he explained. Instead, he was active in the United Methodist Youth Fellowship (UMYF) at his church, First United Methodist Church in Clearwater, Florida.

After graduating from the University of Florida, he returned to Clearwater, where he worked in his parents' printing business, taught Sunday school, and served as one of the adult advisors to the UMYF.

When one of his students, who had been in his Sunday school class, was killed in Viet Nam, Turner said he "felt it was time to answer his call by doing something constructive overseas." He conferred with his wife, Sandy, whom he had met and married at his church in Clearwater, and she encouraged him to pursue the idea. Together, they applied to the UMC Board of Global Ministries, asking for an assignment to do development work.

They were able to arrange a placement through the Botswana Christian Council at a large development project in Serowe, Botswana, where Jack established a printers' cooperative and published a newspaper and Sandy taught math at Swaneng Hill School.

"This changed the course of our lives completely," Turner said of the experience that began in 1970.
The couple, along with their six-month-old son, David, stayed in Botswana for three years. Daughter Dana was born in Botswana. In addition to working, the young family travelled extensively in Southern Africa in their bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle and participated in the life of the village.

The Turner family left Botswana and returned to Florida in late 1973. Jack earned his MBA at the University of South Florida and served as the business officer of Tampa United Methodist Centers, an expanding inner-city social service agency. Sandy finished her master's degree in mathematics and taught math at a Tampa high school. In 1983, Sandy earned her PhD in math education at the University of South Florida and entered the emerging field of educational technology.

This time, it was her turn to suggest a move. "She said to me: 'I don't want to work where I got my doctoral degree. I want to move somewhere else,'" Turner recalled.

Knowing he could find a job anywhere, Turner encouraged her to say yes, and she accepted a position at the National College of Education (now National Louis University) in Evanston, Illinois to start a new program in educational technology.

After they moved, Turner found a job as the financial officer of Marcy-Newberry Association, a United Methodist social service agency in Chicago, which was similar in size and scope to the Tampa United Methodist Centers. Marcy-Newberry was in financial trouble when he arrived, but he turned the agency around by the time he accepted a position in 1986 as the financial officer at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston. At Garrett-Evangelical, Turner had the opportunity to create a new accounting system for the seminary.

Turner said he liked working at Garrett-Evangelical because it was recognized as a seminary that stands for social justice and human rights and his faculty colleagues exemplified those values. "To me, that is the essence of what it means to be in mission," he said.

At the end of 1988, Sandy took a sabbatical from the National College of Education and traveled back to Botswana, where she worked at the University of Botswana in Gaborone. There, she met and worked with faculty from Ohio University's College of Education. Those connections ultimately led to a new position for her at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Sandy joined the faculty there in 1996 as a professor of technology in teaching and learning in the Patton College of Education. Two years later, after retiring from Garrett-Evangelical, Turner joined her in Athens.

When the time came for her to take a sabbatical leave from Ohio University in 2003, Sandy and Jack conferred again and agreed that Ghana would be a good choice for both of them. Jack already knew the Ghanaian relatives of a Garrett-Evangelical colleague, so Sandy accepted a Fulbright Scholarship to teach and do research at the University of Education in Winneba, Ghana, 40 miles west of Ghana's capital Accra. While she was there, she and her colleagues were able to improve the lab facilities substantially. Also, during their two years in Ghana, Sandy and Jack were able to travel and visit other countries in West Africa.

Upon her return to Ohio University, Sandy set up a program where students in Ghana could earn a joint master's degree in educational technology from Ohio University and the University of Education.

Sadly, in 2008, Sandy learned she had stomach cancer. She died in October 2009, shortly after her 64th birthday.

During her time at Ohio University, Sandy served as the first chair of the Department of Educational Studies. She also co-authored three textbooks and computer software for doing qualitative research and wrote many articles.

"Sandy's work touched the lives of many people, both at home and abroad," Turner said. "She was a pioneer in her field and a remarkable role model to students, colleagues and family. Her work as a faculty member was in a very real sense an extension of our understanding of what it meant to be in mission."

After Sandy passed away, Jack established two scholarships, one at Ohio University and one at Garrett-Evangelical. "Through these scholarships my family and I can encourage others to follow Sandy's example of service to others," he said.

If you would like more information on gift annuities, please contact David Heetland at [email protected].