No Finer Friend

In January 15, 1990, the crowd of mourners at the Second Ponce de Leon Baptist Church was dotted with Emory faces. They had come to thank Pollard Turman for his friendship and for the extraordinary support he gave the University. They had come, as well, to bear witness to a life lived with uncommon integrity and selflessness.

October 7, 1996, marked the eighty-fifth anniversary of Turman's birth. In his honor, on October 29, the Tull Foundation authorized a grant of $500,000 to Emory, payable over five years. The gift will enhance and strengthen the existing Pollard Turman Scholarship Fund as well as inaugurate the Pollard Turman Alumni Service Award. By so doing, the foundation can pay tribute to Turman's lifelong contribution to Emory College and recognize exceptional and outstanding service to the University by its alumni.

The resolution that accompanied the grant stated, in part, "It is most fitting that the [Tull] Foundation honor Pollard by making a charitable gift to an organization that was an important and valued part of his life-Emory University." According to William H. Fox, vice president for Institutional Advancement, "The directors of the Tull Foundation have made a wonderful gesture in honoring a giant of a man, Pollard Turman, and in so doing will assist generations of deserving Emory students. We at Emory are deeply grateful for both the legacy Pollard left us and the generosity and thoughtfulness of the Tull Foundation."

How Pollard Turman came to be so appreciated by so many Emory people in attendance at his funeral is the story of a long-standing Emory connection. Turman enrolled in Emory College in 1930 and earned an LL.B. degree from Emory's School of Law in 1934. At Emory, he was a member of the Honor Council, president of the Inter-Fraternity Council, worked for the Wheel, and was voted best all-around athlete in interclass football, basketball, and track. So memorable was his athletic career that, in 1989, Turman was inducted into the inaugural class of the Emory Sports Hall of Fame.

As an alumnus, Turman continued his dedication to Emory, serving as a member of the Board of Trustees for more than three decades. In 1976, he volunteered to serve as vice president for development, a position he held for three years. Then, in 1979, he established the Pollard Turman Scholars Endowment, which was one of the first gifts by a trustee to the Campaign for Emory (1979­1984).

Walter J. Thomas, chairman of the Tull Charitable Foundation, offers some reflections on the kind of student best suited for a Turman scholarship. "The criteria of the scholarship," he says, "reflect the many characteristics that were so special about Pollard himself: his keen intelligence and constant curiosity about the world around him, his sincere concern and compassion for others, his high moral values, and his commitment to community service and leadership."

Turman began his career in 1939 as general counsel for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta then left to become assistant to the president of J. M. Tull Metals Company in 1947. Within four years, he had become president of the company, an honor that was followed by his being named chairman of the board in 1967. He also was named chairman of the Board of Trustees of the J. M. Tull Foundation, a position he held until his death.

An Emory trustee from 1957 until 1980, Turman also was honored by the University in other ways. In 1967, the Association of Emory Alumni bestowed upon him its Award of Honor. In 1973, he received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Emory. Then, in 1983, the University dedicated the $6.5 million Pollard Turman Residential Center in his honor.

Even during a battle with cancer that began in 1985, Turman continued to be a committed civic leader. He was past president of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of Atlanta, past general chairman of the United Way Campaign, and past director of the Salvation Army and American Red Cross.

In the course of a long and distinguished career, the accolades accumulated. Turman received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Mercer University in 1977. He also was awarded the prestigious WSB Radio/Atlanta Gas Light Company Shining Light Award in 1987 for significantly contributing to the lives of others through inspirational service to the community.

"Emory had no finer friend than this unpretentious man," noted John Ingersoll, director of development for Emory College. He added, "With his office a stone's throw from places such as the Ritz Carlton, Turman would choose lunch at Mary Mac's." Born on Myrtle Street near Tenth--in what was then the northern edge of town--Turman truly was a native son. And for all the times that he ventured onto the Emory campus, spreading his good grace, we are grateful.--S.M.C.

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