Life began for William Danny (Dan) Turner on Valentine's Day, 1939, in Moberly, Missouri. He was preceded in death by his parents, William Spencer Turner and Wilmalee Bohannon Turner. He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 44 years, Jane, who lovingly and eagerly accompanied him through life's journeys and adventures, including a winning battle over cancer. He is survived by his sister, Greta Dean Turner of DeSoto, TX, four children, a step-daughter, eleven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. His children are: Laura Lee Preble and husband, John Preble of Jersey Village, TX; John Turner and wife, Karen, of St Hedwig, TX; Donald Turner of Corpus Christi, TX; Kristen Turner Albert and husband Dr. Jason Albert of Greenville, SC; and step-daughter, Carolyn Van Fleet of Austin, TX. His grandchildren from Laura and John are John Preble, Jr. and fiancée, Mattie, of Houston, TX, Michael Danny Preble and wife, Kaitlyn, of Midland, TX, Jessica Preble Kidwell and husband Devan, of Houston, TX and great grandson, Jaxon. John and Karen's children are Kenna, Kaylor, and Karsyn of St Hedwig, TX. Donald's children are Danica and Nataly of Corpus Christi, TX, and Kristen and Jason's children are Xavier and Hendrix of Greenville, SC. Carolyn's son is David Chase Van Fleet and wife, Dr. Shawn Van Fleet, and great-grandson, David Sterling, of Houston, TX.
Dan spent the first 12 years of his life growing up in Moberly, MO, with countless aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. His family moved to Ft. Worth, TX in 1951, and he attended both junior high and high school there, graduating from Amon Carter Riverside in 1956 as an honor graduate. In high school, he played both basketball and baseball and was President of the National Honor Society. In 1956, he entered the University of Texas, and graduated in 1962 with both a BS and an MS in Mechanical Engineering. He then entered into the fledging space and aircraft industries in the DFW area. After four years in industry, he decided to return to college to pursue a PhD. In 1966 Dan entered the University of Oklahoma as a NASA Fellow and completed his PhD in Mechanical Engineering in 1969. Thus began a 42- year career in Higher Education.
Dr. Turner's distinguished teaching career began at Texas A&I University (now A&M-Kingsville). He loved teaching and working with students, and received the College of Engineering's first Distinguished Service Award from the students for both his teaching and advising. In 1976, he accepted a teaching position at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, where he received numerous teaching awards and was involved in ground-breaking research in solar energy. In 1981, he accepted a teaching position in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Texas A&M University. At A&M, he served in several different positions in both teaching and research, including Interim Department Head of Mechanical Engineering, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and was the Founding Director of the Energy Systems Laboratory, a research laboratory within the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station. Dan was also an advisor to the Student Engineers Council for 20 years.
Throughout his academic career, he received numerous awards. He was a Fellow in both the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and he held numerous positions in both organizations, including Vice-President of ASEE. He was honored by ASEE as the "Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Educator in the US" in 2009, as the recipient of the Ralph Coates Row Award. He was honored by the Texas A&M Board of Regents as a Regents Fellow for his service to Texas A&M, the A&M System, and the State of Texas. When he stepped down from the undergraduate dean's position at A&M, he was honored by the students through the establishment of an endowed scholarship, the "Dr. W. Dan Turner Engineering Leadership Award", to be given annually to the outstanding student leader in the College of Engineering. Within the Association of Energy Engineers, Dan was elected to AEE's Energy Manager Hall of Fame, an honor only bestowed annually to two members within the 18,000 member organization.
Dan was extremely proud of his service work through the Energy Systems Laboratory, working with state agencies, school districts, and the Federal Government to make buildings more energy efficient and provide a better and safer indoor environment. He was especially pleased with the pioneering work he did with the US Army Medical Command army hospitals and clinics. He personally conducted energy efficiency research and improved not only the operating efficiency, but also improved the indoor working environment for US troops and support staff literally all over the world. His site visits included more than 60 army hospitals and clinics in the US and abroad, including facilities in Germany, Italy, Japan, and South Korea. Dan worked with many students during his academic career, many of them international students living away from family. Dan became a father figure to many of them, and one such student was Song Deng, with whom Dan worked with for more than 20 years. Dan was the namesake and godfather to Song's first son, Danny.
After retirement from A&M in 2011, Dan joined a small engineering consulting firm in Austin, TX, and continued working on a part-time basis until his full retirement in 2016. He was very proud of his family and their accomplishments. His five oldest grandchildren have all graduated from A&M. Jane and he loved to travel, and, upon retirement, stepped up their travels, not only to see children and grandchildren, but also to places all over the world. Their favorite destination was Aruba, traveling to the beautiful island more than 25 times. When not traveling, Dan and Jane loved Aggie sports and were season ticket holders for football, men's and women's basketball, volleyball, and track. Their favorite pastime, when at home, was playing duplicate bridge.
Dan's kind and compassionate spirit and love for family and friends will be sadly missed. He will remain in our hearts and thoughts forever. A service of remembrance and celebration will be held Friday, September 20th at 7:30pm, with viewing beginning at 6:30pm at Hillier Funeral Home, 4080 Hwy 6 in College Station. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be sent to the Texas A&M Foundation, 401 George Bush Drive, College Station, Texas 77040. Please designate the Dr. W. Dan Turner Engineering Leadership Award on the memo line of the check.