Turnbull succumbs to illness

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Englewood schools and its students lost a strong advocate Sept. 4 when longtime resident Gene Turnbull passed away.

The 64-year-old Turnbull, a member of the Englewood Public Schools board, had been battling a number of ailments for about a year. He became seriously ill and spent some time in hospice, but returned home and passed away there on Sept. 4 surrounded by family members.

Services were held Sept. 11. In lieu of flowers, the family requested donations for a continuing education fund for Turnbull’s grandchildren, Imagine Moore and Isaac Medrano. The details on how to donate to the fund were still being finalized at press time.

People remember Turnbull as an individual who was active in politics and deeply involved in the schools. He is the only individual to leave the school board because of term limits, wait the required four years and successfully run to return to the board.

“I was on the school board with Gene for eight years, and he was a man who devoted all the time and energy necessary to be prepared for every meeting,” said Mary Dounay, former school board president. “He cared deeply for the children and focused his effort on doing what was he felt was best for the students and for their education.”

Turnbull was born in Sioux City, Iowa, on Christmas Day, 1948. Turnbull was in middle school when the family moved to the Englewood area, and he graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1966.

Turnbull was in the Army from 1966 to 1971. He began military service when he was drafted into the Army soon after graduation and served a tour in Vietnam. When he was discharged, he enlisted in the Army and served a second tour in Vietnam. After completing his military service, he returned to the Denver area and continued his education. He earned a bachelor’s degree in counseling from Metropolitan State College and spent a number of years working with battered and abused women.

During his college years, he sold vacuum cleaners door to door, and that was how he met his wife, Sandy.

He sought a different direction and became a construction project coordinator. His tasks varied from making sure supplies were ordered and delivered on time to arranging for the purchase of prefabricated metal buildings.

Despite the demands of his career, Turnbull still found time to be an advocate for Englewood students and schools. In 1997, he successfully ran for the Englewood School Board. He was re-elected in 2001. He could not seek another term in 2005 because of term limits.

Turnbull remained active in the school district and worked hard to help the district enlist voter support for a $40 million bond needed for the current construction  of a seventh- through 12th-grade campus on the Englewood High School site.

He again became a successful candidate for school board in 2009 and was a candidate for a second term this year.