I am saddened to report the death of our friend, Dr. Frank Turnage, former Executive Director of the Germanna Foundation and serving as Trustee Emeritus at the time of his death.
Frank, whose roots go back to colonial North Carolina and Virginia, had a long and distinguished career in the Virginia Community College System and served for 21 years as President of Germanna Community College, retiring as President Emeritus in 2007.
We were proud of his service to Germanna Community College, named after our Foundation for the gift of 100 acres of land in 1969 to build the first campus. Frank expanded our namesake, opening campuses in Fredericksburg and Culpeper, and burnished its name in the Virginia Piedmont by enhancing the skills and educational achievements of so many families in the Germanna region.
For Germanna Foundation members, we knew and loved Frank through his leadership of the Germanna Foundation as our Executive Director, which complemented his earlier service as a Trustee, beginning in 1996.
At our July Germanna Conference and Reunion in 2011, Frank announced his second retirement as our Executive Director. What we could not say then, but what we can say now, is that Frank had put into motion the transfer of the Fort Germanna/Enchanted Castle archaeological site to the Germanna Foundation from the Commonwealth of Virginia at the end of 2013.
I have been part of many negotiations as a Congressional staffer and State Department advisor, but let me tell you what a sheer pleasure it was being in meetings in the Germanna area and in Richmond with high-ranking officials and watch Frank go to work. He was a master of subtle diplomacy, of what some State Department hands called “the ability of letting the other guy have it your way.”
Frank was effective because he called us to listen to “the better angels of our nature” and do-not just the right thing -but the best thing.
The noted Virginia historian, Dr. John Walter Wayland, one of the founders of the Germanna Foundation, is known best in some circles for a short essay entitled “The True Gentleman.” When I first read it, I imagined Frank. This essay continues to shape the character of young Americans through its recitation in countless homes and campuses to commission a young man on new voyage in life, and reflecting the ethos which we seek to inculcate in ourselves as ambassdors of the Germanna Foundation:
“The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others rather than his own; and who appears well in any company; a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe.”
Ever the “True Gentleman,” each act of service he rendered reflected well on the Germanna Foundation. In the good company of Frank Turnage, we became truer to the people God wants us to become. We are privileged to have known him.
God bless his wife Nancy of 56 years, his children Wells (Ann-Marie) and Noah (Christina), and his five grandchildren: Maryanna, Gabor, Parker, Elizabeth and Melina.
J. Marc Wheat
Richard V. Hurley, President of the University of Mary Washington, Dr. Frank Turnage and Germanna Foundation President Marc Wheat at the Fort Germanna transfer ceremony in 2013. Frank holds a certificate from Mary Washington College Center for Historic Preservation of being a “Trustee of America” in recognition of significant contributions to the conservation and preservation of America’s architectural, cultural, historical and natural heritage.
Read about his life and career:
Frank Turnage, pivotal Germanna college president, dies at 79 (Culpeper-Star Exponent)