Coleman County native named Texas A&M Distinguished Texan in Agriculture

VOSS – Longtime legislator and staunch agricultural leader, Bob Turner of Voss, has been named a 2012 Texas A&M Distinguished Texan in Agriculture.

The award recognizes and honors agricultural leaders in Texas who demonstrate outstanding leadership and provide significant contributions to Texas agriculture, said Dr. Mark Hussey, vice chancellor and dean for agriculture and life sciences, Texas A&M University System.

“Bob Turner’s passion for supporting all facets of the Texas agricultural industry stands second to none,” Hussey said. “Throughout his life he has stood fast to defend and preserve agriculture.

“From the grassroots level to the house floor, Bob’s common-sense approach to a wide array of issues has won him support not only from rural Texans but from urban constituents as well.”

Turner was elected to the Texas House of Representatives and served from 1991-2003. During his tenure he served as chair of the House Committee on Public Safety, and as a member of the House committees on Land and Resource Management, Agriculture and Livestock and Natural Resources.

“Bob is a long-time champion of the agricultural community and the rural Texans who are a part of it,” said Tom Boggus in a letter supporting Turner’s distinguished Texan nomination. Boggus is State Forester and director of the Texas Forest Service at College Station.

“Agriculture depends on rural Texans and rural Texans depend upon agriculture,” Boggus wrote. “Understanding this connection has lead Bob into a lifetime of tireless service for the betterment of Texas agriculture and the health of the rural communities that are linked to it.”

Boggus lauded Turner’s help when, as a legislator, he authored and passed HB 680 that established the Helping Hands Program, which provided liability relief to entities donating surplus fire and emergency equipment to the forest service, resulting in an estimated $25 million in equipment donations since the program began.

Boggus said Turner currently chairs the Texas Forest Service Rural Fire Advisory Council, where he has helped guide and shape all of the agency’s fire department assistance programs.

“Mr. Turner’s actions – as a state representative, council member and community leader – have directly benefited over 95 percent of the rural fire departments in the state and have improved the lives and safety of countless Texans,” Boggus wrote.

Turner has long been active in the Farm Bureau. He joined the Coleman County Farm Bureau in 1975 and served two terms as president. In 1985, he was elected to the Texas Farm Bureau state board and served as vice president, member of the Blue Ribbon Goals and Resolutions committees and chairman of the Texas Rural Health Committee. He also chaired the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Damage Management Committee and the American Farm Bureau Federation Rural Health Committee.

Turner was born, raised and still lives in Voss in Coleman County, where his family settled shortly after 1900. He has farmed and raised livestock all of his life. He also owned and operated a retail western wear store for 20 years.

Turner was in the U.S. Army Reserve for 35 years and retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Turner is joined by two other prominent Texans who will be honored in 2012 with similar recognitions. They are the late E.M. “Manny” Rosenthal of Fort Worth who is being honored posthumously, and Jerry D. Harris of Lamesa.

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