Making a Difference: Turnauer ’59 Perpetuates Dean’s Generosity

by Melissa Egan

A man who has pursued his goals with energy, determination, and a strong work ethic, Jerry Turnauer ’59 was delivering newspapers, cutting grass, and shoveling snow even before arriving on College Hill. He says the years he lived with his grandparents in Bethlehem, Pa., during grade school had the greatest influence on his life’s direction.

At Lafayette, Turnauer was a mechanical engineering major. He worked during holidays and vacations and held part-time jobs during the school year. He still struggled to meet the financial demands of his education and could not register his junior year because of an unpaid balance. He was sent to Dean Frank R. Hunt, who suggested he work for a year and then complete his degree. When Turnauer said no, Hunt suggested that he audit classes. After a week of discussion, Turnauer realized Hunt was right. When he went to the Dean to tearfully announce his withdrawal, Hunt took out his personal checkbook and lent him enough to remain at Lafayette.

The next year Turnauer graduated and began work at Dixie Cup Company, where he received a patent for an industrial paper-plate dispenser. He then worked for Mack Trucks and later Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, Mich., where he earned his MBA cum laude at the University of Michigan. In 1976, he moved to Delaware and founded Bayshore Ford Truck Sales, and later added two additional Ford dealerships. He served as chair of American Truck Dealers from 2004 to 2006.

“At some point in your life, you say, ‘how did I arrive here.’ The pivotal significant moment in my life was Dean Hunt giving his own personal funds to help somebody—just another face in the crowd. I asked myself, ‘why me?’ I realized the difference was not me; the difference was Dean Hunt. We’ve since learned that there were many students who benefited from his generosity and kindness. I decided to honor and preserve his memory as the Spirit of Lafayette.”

And he did that by establishing a scholarship fund “in gratitude and admiration for Dean Hunt’s lifetime of personal and professional dedication to helping students overcome obstacles that would have prevented them from graduating.” Although his loan was repaid many years ago, Turnauer insists he still feels guilty for not adequately thanking Hunt, who was dean of students from 1946 to 1958 and died in 1968. At his 50th Reunion, Turnauer and his wife, Sandye, established the Dean Frank R. Hunt Emergency Scholarship. Their initial gifts, combined with a bequest, will create one of Lafayette’s largest endowed scholarships.

Many of the other students who benefited from Hunt’s guidance have contributed to the fund.

Turnauer spoke at the 11th biennial scholarship recognition dinner March 28, which celebrates the more than 550 named scholarships that generated about $7.5 million in aid awarded this\ year, part of the more than $40 million financial aid program.

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