Rufus L. Turner

Architect, loving husband, father and grandfather

Rufus Turner, a longtime resident of Claremont, died at home on Thursday, February 27, 2014 at age 85.

Mr. Turner was born in Crockett, Texas and graduated from Texas A&M University with degrees in architecture and architectural construction. In 1956 when he was 27, his employer Adleta assigned him his first task: a job at the Mercantile National Bank complex in Dallas. He worked with internationally respected California artist Millard Sheets, assisting in the installation of some of the most renowned mosaics produced in the nation.

 Mr. Turner then moved his young family to California to work at the Sheets Studio in Claremont as an architect, and assisted on numerous projects including the dozens of Home Savings Banks spread around southern California. His responsibilities at the Sheets Studio also included interiors, furnishings, remodels and residential and commercial projects.

In 1964 he founded his own studio, Turner and Associates in Claremont, where he established a tradition of excellence in architecture and interior design. Over the past 50 years, Mr. Turner created a body of work that included residential, commercial and institutional projects. He received design awards from the cities of Claremont, Ontario and La Verne and the Alumni Association of the University of La Verne College of Law. He was recently honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Claremont Heritage.

David Shearer, executive director of Claremont Heritage, recently posted a tribute to Mr. Turner on the local preservation society’s website. His memorial included an excerpt from the poem “Success” by Bessie Anderson Stanley, whose ethos he said the architect epitomized.

He has achieved success, according to the poet, who has “lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has enjoyed…the respect of intelligent men and the love of children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who leaves the world better than he found it;…who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it…and who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had.”

“Rufus left a legacy for us to aspire to,” Mr. Shearer wrote. “As a man, as a husband and father, as an artist and architect, as a mentor and a friend, he will be missed. We are fortunate to have the toils of his work to remind us of his integrity and honesty of design—of life! His love of beauty and humble approach to everything he put his mind to  revealed his intention without compromise.”

Mr. Turner recently served on the Claremont Heritage board and on the board of overseers of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. He was also as a past president of the Claremont Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Architectural Commission, Foothill Business Association and Kiwanis.

He was a southern gentleman who will be remembered for his hugs, hospitality, storytelling and dependability. He was a humble man, with a good sense of humor, a positive outlook, a strong set of ethics and pride in being a Texas Aggie. He was a generous mentor to countless young architectural students, interns and employees, consistently attracting a culturally diverse staff.

Over the past 17 years, Mr. Turner grew to love his vacation time in Kauai with family and friends, peaceful in the calm of the island.

The family wishes to express their gratitude to Mr. Turner’s many friends and colleagues for their support and encouragement during the past year.

He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Elaine; by his children, Terri Bonham (Tuck), Rebecca (Joanne) and Lee; by his grandchildren, Tiffany Cleveland, Tyler Bonham (Jaclyn) and Atticus; by five great-grandchildren; by his sister Carrie Ballard (Travis), and by extended family in Texas and California who dearly loved him.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, March 28 at 2 p.m. at Padua Hills Theatre in Claremont. A reception will follow. Contributions in Rufus Turner’s memory may be made to St. Mark’s Episcopal School, Upland, CA, Claremont Heritage or Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.



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