COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – The city of Columbus is mourning the loss of a longtime civic leader and philanthropist.
Bill Turner died Monday night at the age of 94.
What we're hearing is that he was the most unassuming millionaire you'd ever meet. Yes, Turner had money, but you would never know it by his attitude.
He did not flaunt his wealth. Quite often he would contribute anonymously to ensure a project's success.
Bill Turner's legacy began long before he became known as "Mr. Bill." He was tapped for future leadership at the age of 8, by his grandfather, W.C. Bradley. You might say he ran with it.
"I think you can go anywhere in town and see his influence, his philanthropic legacy, the kinds of things that he has done at CSU, the kinds of things he did for our arts community. That evidence is all over town," said Columbus City Councilor Judy Thomas.
Two of the many companies that benefited from Turner's leadership are Synovus Financial Corporation and the W.C. Bradley Company. He chaired the boards of both.
"It's his legacy that we are all trying to continue, and I think the only thing that we can do to honor his legacy is truly live according to his guidelines, which are really doing good, and take care of the people and make sure you do the right thing and all the rest will follow," said Marc Olivie, President and CEO of W.C. Bradley Company.
Synovus CEO Kessell Stelling issued this statement late Tuesday about Turner's influence: "During his nearly 40 years serving on boards for Synovus, TSYS, and Columbus Bank and Trust, he guided with his heart and head, and made us better at every turn."
The Pastoral Institute wouldn't exist without his guidance and city pride.
"Marble Collegiate Church in New York City wanted to start a counseling center and did, and the pastor called Bill Turner and asked him to support it financially, and Bill Turner kind of got the idea why would I support one in New York City when I can support one in Columbus, Georgia," said Earl Nichols, Turner Ministry Resource Center.
And that he did, starting the counseling center in 1974.
Bill Turner was a religious man, teaching a teen Sunday School class at St. Luke Methodist Church for more than 50 years.
Councilor Judy Thomas tells us that if Turner and his wife ever went out of town over the weekend, he always made sure they were back on Sunday morning so he could teach that Sunday school class.
Bill Turner was a Columbus native born in 1922. he will be laid to rest Thursday.