December 16, 2020 —Ralph Turner looked at the world through the eyes of a scientist. “All sciences from A (astronomy) to Z (zoology),” the retired Oberlin College psychology professor wrote in the bio that accompanied his move to Kendal in 1993.
Ralph’s ham radio also came with him, along with reel-to-reel recordings of Big Band music.
Seeking to Give Back to the Community
Several years ago, Ralph took an interest in the community’s older passenger van that was used to take residents to medical appointments and other outings. He thought back to his time in the U.S. Air Force, where he designed tests to evaluate accident-prone airmen, and felt “obligated” to act.
In 2010, Kendal was able to purchase a new, 9-seat bus, thanks in large part to Ralph’s foresight.
“I was retired, and able to help. And I would have felt very guilty if I hadn’t made a significant contribution,” he explained.
A Tour to Celebrate 100 Years
Ralph rarely road the bus, but that summer he took a ride in Kendal’s van with transportation coordinator Donna Smith. He recently celebrated his 100th birthday, and the outing was a belated present.
They toured Oberlin, stopping at the house he built. “I put every nail in that house,” he told Donna.
They visited Westwood Cemetery to see the headstone of his wife, Louise. She died five weeks before their scheduled move to Kendal. They also saw the markers of many of Ralph’s deceased friends from Kendal.
Finally they went by the Oberlin Heritage Center so that he could see the site of the brick bearing his wife’s name. “Ralph really enjoyed the outing and I have to say I did too,” Donna said. “It was a beautiful day.”
Making a Difference at Kendal
Ralph made his mark at Kendal in several other ways. He started the Science Interest Group the year after arriving at Kendal. “One of the beauties of that group is we decided not to have a prepared program, so it’s free flowing,” Ralph said.
He also co-founded the Jazz Listening Group, which he continues to attend. “I do not like what they call jazz today. I enjoy the music from when I was in college, Benny Goodman and Big Band,” he said.
Kendal’s Culture of Generosity
As a nonprofit organization, Kendal at Oberlin seeks better ways to enrich the lives of older adults.