Marshall S. Turner, 90, head of athletics at Johns Hopkins


Marshall S. Turner, athletic director of the Johns Hopkins University for more than two decades, died Wednesday of complications from Parkinson's disease at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium.

He had celebrated his 90th birthday in February.

Mr. Turner was born in Terra Haute, Ind., and raised in Winnetka, Ill., Chicago and Winfield, Kan. He was salutatorian of the Class of 1933 at Sewanee Military Academy in Tennessee.

He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of the South at Sewanee, Tenn., where he earned a bachelor's degree in history in 1937, and he received a master's degree in physical education from Johns Hopkins University in 1950.

In the late 1930s, Mr. Turner was a Baltimore County farmer, and in 1939 returned to his former high school, where he taught and coached. He came to St. Paul's School, then located on Rogers Avenue, as an instructor and coach in 1944.

He arrived on the Hopkins' Homewood campus in 1946 as an instructor and assistant football, basketball and lacrosse coach in the university's department of physical education and athletics.

In 1950, Mr. Turner was appointed athletic director, a position he held until stepping down in 1973. He remained at Hopkins nearly another decade as a physical education instructor until retiring in 1981.

During his tenure at Hopkins, Mr. Turner added several men's varsity sports and added women's sports after women were admitted to the university in 1970. He also presided over the construction of the Newton White Athletic Center in 1964.

"Marsh was a person who with his quiet manner did so much for our athletic programs at Hopkins, and he was also a leader on the national scene," said Bob Scott, former Hopkins lacrosse coach, who succeeded Mr. Turner as athletic director. "Coaches respected him because they knew how much he cared for the students and the program, and he was the one who got women's athletics off the ground at Hopkins."

Mr. Scott added: "He was always very much in control and gentle in his ways when dealing with people. No one epitomized a true gentleman more than Marshall Turner."

"He flunked me in phys ed," recalled Dick Watts, retired University of Maryland, Baltimore County lacrosse coach, who was then an undergraduate at Hopkins.

"I was wrestling and playing football and lacrosse at the time, and went in to see him. I asked, `Mr. Turner, why did you flunk me?' He told me that phys ed was a requirement and that I hadn't shown up for class, and that's why I got a big `F,'" Mr. Watts recalled with a laugh yesterday.

"Marshall Turner was low-key and never raised his voice. He was straight as an arrow and would bend but would not break. He was so quiet that we gave him the nickname of Sneakers; of course, we never called him that to his face," he said.

"He also really watched the athletic department budget and could really squeeze a nickel. I really liked him even though he flunked me," Mr. Watts said.

Bill Tanton, retired sports editor for The Evening Sun, recalled Mr. Turner from his student days at Hopkins.

"He was a handsome, unassuming man who was always well-dressed. He was unobtrusive and never sought the limelight," he said.

Mr. Turner had served as president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics from 1968 to 1969, and president of the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association from 1966 to 1967.

He had been a member of the executive committee of the NCAA and served two terms as president of the Mason-Dixon Conference, and was secretary-treasurer of the Middle Atlantic Conference for 21 years. In 1964, he was awarded the C. Markland Kelly Award for his outstanding contributions to athletics in the state of Maryland.

"His involvement with the NCAA, NACDA and the USILA helped put the Johns Hopkins name on the map in the world of intercollegiate athletics. His impact on the history of Johns Hopkins University cannot be overstated," Mr. Scott said.

On April 1, Mr. Turner was inducted into the Hopkins Athletic Hall of Fame.

From 1976 to 1998, Mr. Scott lived in Chestertown with his wife of 43 years, the former Lois Greth Hall. Two years ago, the couple moved to the Mercy Ridge Retirement Community in Timonium.

He was a member of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Chestertown.

Mr. Turner enjoyed golfing and spending winters at St. Simon's Island.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. April 23 at Hodson Hall on the Hopkins campus, 3400 N. Charles St.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Turner is survived by a stepson, R. Dean Hall of Columbia; and a brother, the Rev. Russell Wood Turner of West Melbourne, Fla.

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