News

Robert G. Turner, Founder of F.C. School-Business Alliance, Dies

Robert Greene Turner, 71, a long-time City of Falls Church resident, past member of the F.C. School Board and credited with generating the impetus for the formation of the non-profit Falls Church Education Foundation, died Saturday.

Turner battled multiple sclerosis for almost 30 years but remained with his wife at his Little Falls St. home across from City Hall until only days before his passing. He had developed lymphoma, which was given as the cause of death.

Born Sept. 30, 1940, in Clifton Forge, Virginia, Turner graduated from Virginia Tech and worked with the C and P, AT and T and Bell Atlantic telephone companies before being diagnosed with MS.

He and his wife, Fran Turner, bore and raised two children in Falls Church – Chris and Andrew Turner, now in their later 30s – who graduated from Falls Church schools.

Turner was appointed to the Falls Church School Board in the mid-1980s, and inspired the formation of the now-famous Business in Education (BIE) partnership, which still exists as an entity drawing from the resources of the local business community to help students in the world-class Falls Church School System.

The BIE was also instrumental in bridge a political divide which had afflicted Falls Church before that when business interests were considered in conflict with those of financing a quality school system, and acrimonious City Council elections were fought out on those terms.

Beyond the founding and development of the BIE, however, Turner’s inspiration was eventually realized in 2004 with the creation of the non-profit Falls Church Education Foundation (FCEF), which has raised three million dollars to date and remains a vital support structure augmenting the continued-excellence of the F.C. School System. A run-and-walk fundraiser for the FCEF is scheduled for mid-September.

Turner was one of two members of the BIE Foundation board, and was also an active member of the Falls Church Episcopal Church. In addition, he devoted his energies in the mid-1990s to the development of a Business Directory service in the Falls Church News-Press that exists to the present day.

Turner’s personal struggle with MS was an inspiration to his family, friends and associates. He remained optimistic and dedicated to a regimen to forestall the illness until the end. He was thoughtful, insightful and dedicated to remaining abreast with current events, both locally and nationally.

His wife Fran, a recently-retired “gifted and talented” elementary school teacher with the Fairfax County system, was at his side when he passed at the Virginia Hospital Center Saturday at 1 p.m. Their sons arrived in Falls Church early this week, Chris from Rollinsville, Colorado and Andrew from his current employment location in Budapest, Hungary.

In addition to sons Christopher Thomas Turner and Andrew Greene Turner, Turner is survived by his wife Fran, granddaughter Hayley Grace Turner of Rollinsville, Colorado, a sistert Ethelyn Evans with husband Julius, brother James T. Turner and wife Pat, also of Falls Church, nieces, nephews and many other relatives.

The family will receive friends today, Thursday, Aug. 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Murphy Funeral Home, 1102 W. Broad St. A memorial service will be held Friday, Aug. 24, at 1 p.m. at the Falls Church Historic Chapel, 115 E. Fairfax St., Falls Church, followed by a reception in the Fellowship Hall. Interment will be Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Mountain View Cemetery in Clifton Forge, Virginia at 3 p.m.

Memorial contributions may be made to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, P.O. Box 4527, New York, New York 10163.