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Legacy of a Loyal Lobo Fan

Bob Turner’s Devotion to UNM Athletics Memorialized with Naming Gift

By Hilary Mayall Jetty

Posted September 1, 2016

Most of the mourners at Bob Turner’s memorial service last June wore Lobo red. Even the mortuary staff sported Lobo ties, and iconic flags were mounted on the hearse and limousines. Slides displayed before the service began featured images of Bob at many Lobo events; coaches and players revered him as a super fan. He would have been proud.

Long before University Arena (now WisePies Arena AKA The Pit) was built, Bob was rooting for the Lobo men’s basketball team from the bleachers in Johnson Gym. A loyal friend to coaches, Bob also took an interest in the academic accomplishments of student-athletes. He attended countless banquets and pre-game events, and traveled to important away games whenever possible, including the Mountain West Conference. Passionate about Lobo men’s and women’s basketball, football and women’s volleyball, Bob didn’t socialize much during games. He was always focused on the action.

Left to right, UNM VP for Athletics Paul Krebs, Sharon Davidson, Larry Turner and UNM Men’s Basketball Coach Craig Neal gather during the dedication of the Bob Turner Letterman’s Lounge and Bob Turner Board Room at WisePies Arena last October. Photo: Courtesy UNM Athletics

Left to right, UNM VP for Athletics Paul Krebs, Sharon Davidson, Larry Turner and UNM Men’s Basketball Coach Craig Neal gather during the dedication of the Bob Turner Letterman’s Lounge and Bob Turner Board Room at WisePies Arena last October. Photo: Courtesy UNM Athletics

Toward the end of Bob’s life, a charitable trust was established to benefit causes and organizations that were important to Bob throughout his life. His children, Larry Turner and Sharon Davidson, considered their father’s deep relationships with teams and coaches, and the many happy hours he spent cheering them on. They decided to honor him with a generous gift from the trust to the athletics department he cherished, naming two connected spaces in WisePies Arena; the Bob Turner Letterman’s Lounge and Bob Turner Board Room were dedicated in October 2015.

“Dad told my brother that he wanted to be bronzed and placed on an upper level overlooking the basketball court,” Sharon laughed, “but this was close enough. He would have been overjoyed.”

A Texas native, and University of Texas at Austin graduate, Bob Turner got into the Albuquerque car business in the early 1960s, joining Rich Richardson Ford (now Rich Ford). There were a few years when the family moved away from the Duke City, but they returned for good in 1966 as Rich Ford expanded, and Bob became a partner and manager.

A hardworking and competitive businessman, Bob acquired the Frontier Ford dealership on Lomas Boulevard near the UNM campus in 1990, parlaying his experience and acumen into his ultimate venture, Bob Turner’s Ford Country, which he relocated northwest of the “Big I” interchange in 2000. Television commercials featuring the lanky owner in a variety of costumes delivering cornball lines made his children cringe just a little, but endeared him to the community. His iconic “and that’s no bull” tag line reflected his business philosophy and personal integrity.

“My dad was as honest and big hearted as anyone you’d ever meet,” said Larry Turner, who worked with his father for many years. “He always believed in giving back to his community, led by example and encouraged his employees to do volunteer work. He made folks feel appreciated; that was a big part of his success.”

Larry shared his father’s enthusiasm for basketball, and remembers the day Bob took him to a construction site south of campus to see the big hole in the ground. “Our family went to the first game ever played at The Pit,” he recalled, “and if Dad wasn’t out of town, he was there.” Bob joined the Lobo Club, and while at Rich Ford he coordinated with other car dealers in town to create the Lobo Coaches Automobile Program, which supplied new cars for head coaches. “I’ll never forget the day he drove the first car right onto the court and handed the keys to Coach Bob King,” said Larry.

“The very first day I met Bob Turner his strong passion for Lobo Athletics and his interest in our coaches and student-athletes was evident,” stated Paul Krebs, UNM Vice President for Athletics. “From starting our courtesy car program to his visible seat behind our bench at basketball games, Bob was a champion for the Lobos. It is fitting that we named our Alumni Letterman’s Lounge in his honor.”

Professionally, Bob served on Ford Motor Company’s national dealer council and was chairman of the New Mexico’s Auto Dealers Association and the Albuquerque Auto Dealers Association, yet he always found time to sit on the boards of many charities as well. He took a special interest in fund raising for children’s cancer programs through golf tournaments, and during the summer he would visit a camp in northern New Mexico for kids with cancer. In his private life, he was an avid dancer and wrote poetry.

Turner Ford became Power Ford in 2012, as Bob’s health declined. Sharon is active in fund raising and advocating public awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association. This disease finally claimed the father she and Larry revered as a robust, gregarious and philanthropic member of the community, and it broke their hearts. Yet Bob’s enduring spirit has inspired them to carry on his legacy of community service and sustain his legendary loyalty to his beloved Lobos.

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