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January 17, 2021

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ONU alumni named Ada Distinguished Citizen of the Year

James E. Turner, a 1963 graduate of Ohio Northern University’s College of Pharmacy, former Ohio Northern University professor and former owner of Gardner’s Pharmacy in Ada, was named Ada’s Distinguished Citizen of the Year at the 47th annual Town and Gown Banquet at Ohio Northern University on Monday, Nov. 5.

“Jim embodied what we think about when the phrase ‘town and gown’ is spoken,” said Bob McCurdy, special assistant to the dean of ONU’s College of Pharmacy and longtime friend of Turner.

“Jim Turner was our local pharmacist, but he is so much more than that: a community leader, by example; a distinguished faculty member at ONU; a role model for future pharmacists; a friend to all. He exemplifies family values, commitment and integrity. He is the perfect combination of a Bulldog and a Polar Bear.”

Turner came to study pharmacy at ONU in 1959 and was a member of Kappa Psi fraternity and Rho Chi, participated with “The Northern” yearbook, and played basketball and baseball.

After graduating in 1963, Turner practiced pharmacy in his hometown of Newark, Ohio, before joining Eli Lilly as a sales representative. When the opportunity to purchase Gardner’s Drugstore in Ada, Ohio, presented itself, Turner and his late wife, Mary Ann Gardner Turner, purchased the store and returned to Ada.

Soon after returning to Ada, Turner joined the faculty at the Raabe College of Pharmacy in 1977 as the pharmacist for the model pharmacy. In developing the college’s externship program, he visited hundreds of pharmacy students at various pharmacies around the state. He served as advisor for Phi Lambda Sigma and Kappa Psi.

In addition, Turner served as treasurer for the Ohio Pharmacists Association as well as a member and president of the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy. Further, Turner’s community service included the Hardin County Health Board, the Ada Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Liberty Bancshares Board. Turner also was the voice of Ada home football games for many years. He retired from ONU in 2001.

The Town and Gown Association was established in 1957 by a group of townspeople and University personnel whose primary interest was to develop and maintain a strong and positive relationship between the village and the University.

In the second year of its existence in 1958, the association decided to sponsor an annual banquet at which time an individual was to be honored as the Distinguished Citizen of the Year. This tradition continues and is considered the high point of the evening’s program.