Below is a message from Don's wife of 34 years, Gail, on their story together--and why you should vote Don on Tuesday, November 6th:
"Our Story"--A Message from Gail Turner (Though hard to condense 34 years into something that won't bore you!)
I will begin our story before Don met me -- just a little before. Don was accepted on the Milton Fire Department in 1982, the same year we met. He was officially a member of the Department in 1983 (after a year probation). I had no idea what being a volunteer firefighter meant or what it was all about. I soon learned. It meant a fierce dedication to serving your community and being “on call” at all hours of the day and night. It meant missing dates, it meant missing class, it meant helping your neighbors by putting your arm around them to help try to console them as they watched their home be destroyed by fire. It meant learning a lot about empathy and compassion toward people. He worked his way up the ranks of the Department by being a firefighter, Lieutenant, Captain, Assistant Chief and then the Chief, earning the respect of his fellow firefighters. You do not get handed those positions; you earn them by hard work, as anyone in the fire service knows.
Don and I met at Champlain College in 1982. I am from Connecticut originally, so I lived on campus. He lived in Milton, and commuted. It didn't take long for me to understand that he was different from other young men our age. He had a vision for his life and he was going to work hard to achieve that. We would talk for hours and hours about what he and I felt our future would hold. So after only eight months of dating, we got engaged. We had one more year of college to go before we would get married.
During our first year of college, Don's parents basically mortgaged everything they owned to build Milton Bowling Center. The town didn't have anything recreational for people to do, so they had a vision and they built it. It was very scary -- if it didn't work, they would have lost everything. I admired their courage. They sat the entire family down to discuss their plan. An enormous personal risk on their part, risking everything they had worked so hard for their whole lives. "Worked hard for" are very key words in that sentence. Don's father drove school bus and delivered milk before beginning his construction company. His mom was a stay at home mom who helped with the construction business. The kids also helped. His father would come home for dinner and after dinner, they would all go to the job site and clean to get it ready for the next day. ALL of them. If a job needs to be done, you do what needs to be done -- even if it means the whole family chips in and gets the house ready for the next days' work.
So construction of Milton Bowling Center began. Don, at this time, was helping to build the bowling center, going to school, trying to study and had a fiancee to juggle. This was not easy, and at one point he thought of just dropping out of Champlain because it truly was almost too much for him at 19 years old. But he didn't (I might have been quite strong in my objection to this). So, he just worked even harder to achieve the success of the bowling center and graduate from Champlain College.
We were married on October 20, 1984 in Farmington, Connecticut. I was 19, Don was 20. We had nothing. Literally. Don bought me my first car for $500.00 and when I would make that sharp turn off the Burlington exit heading to Milton, the door would fly open. I would have to reach out and close it, while driving on the curve, every time! Who needs a door that stays securely locked? Not me! This is one of those stories that gets told all the time. I worked at a law firm as a legal secretary and he was managing the bowling center from morning until late evening, seven days a week. This is where he met so many people and this is where he began to form his relationships with people. He has been and always will be a “people” person. He loves to meet people, talk to them, and listen to their stories. People love to talk to him too. So many times, people just stop and talk to him. He's that kind of person.
After many years of running the bowling center, it was a family decision to sell, as it was so time consuming and we were beginning our family. We had our first daughter, Emily in 1991, followed by Hillary in 1993 and Erin in 1995. He was still working morning to evening, seven days a week, coming home for a bit and most times heading back to the bowling center later. In 1995 the bowling center was sold and that is when he began his successful career in real estate. He was very successful in this endeavor due to all the people he had met from 1983 until 1995. Anyone who needed to sell or buy a house would use him. Everyone knew he was honest and would work super hard for you to get you the best house for the best price. During this same time, he was still working with his father building homes and housing developments as part of Don Turner & Sons, Construction. As anyone knows in the real estate business, it is not 9-5 Mon-Friday. He worked every day of the week and lots of odd hours. I understood that he was never going to be a Mon-Friday, 9-5 type person. Don didn't grow up that way. He watched his father work seven days a week also -- so, it's in his blood. For Don to achieve what he wanted, he had to work a lot, which he did. I continued to work as a legal secretary having gone from one law firm to the one I have currently been at for 30 years now, well, almost 31, yikes -- McCormick, Fitzpatrick, Kasper & Burchard. (Best law firm ever, by the way!)
Fast forward to 2006, Don's name was one of three names submitted to Governor Douglas as a possible replacement for Doran Metzger, who was being deployed. After meeting with Governor Douglas, he was offered the opportunity and he accepted the appointment. During those years until now, he has represented Milton as best he could. (I have never seen anyone so dedicated to their home town as he is -- unfailingly dedicated).
He was elected the Minority Leader in 2011 and held that position until this year. In this capacity, he has had to work in the minority his entire tenure; meaning, he had to be able to reach across the aisle, listen and work collaboratively with the other parties; which he did and he did with respect. To come to a resolution with many people, you have to listen and there has to be give and take. You can't just demand things be your way. He would never conduct himself like that. He earned the respect of all parties, Democrats, Progressives, and Independents, because of his willingness to listen and negotiate respectfully.
These are the qualities of a Lieutenant Governor. A person who will listen to EVERYONE, no matter what their party or status.
If anyone should question whether he can handle all of his jobs, he has already proven he can. Last session he was still the fire/rescue chief of Milton, the minority leader, the interim town manager, real estate agent, still working with his father on projects, and forest fire warden. Nothing in the town was neglected because of this. He actually got things done. Things that hadn't been done in years and projects that sat on a back burner that just needed final tweaking to make happen. HE made them happen.
Juggling many things at one time is something he can do, without question. If anyone knows this, I believe it is me, who has had a front row seat for the past 34 years. He is truly an honest, hard working man. He is also a devoted father and a wonderful husband.
Also, as the person who has witnessed this on hundreds of occasions, I would also like people to know that Don will help anyone, at any time. Our home phone rings, or his cell phone rings, and someone needs help, he does it. If it's something he can't help with, he will make calls to get it done. He does it because he likes to help people. He is not about recognition or looking for people to pat him on the back. He just genuinely helps people from the bottom of his heart.
I ask that you vote for my husband, Don Turner, Jr., as he is the best candidate for the job. And a truly decent man.