Honoring Mack Turner
Updated: Jan 24
With sadness and deep appreciation, TCA says goodbye to our long-time chairman, Mack Turner, who passed away December 11. Mack’s leadership has been invaluable in growing TCA, raising its level of influence, and putting it on sound footing as we reached the 50-year mark and began our second fifty years. Members of the TCA family have often referred to his “big heart” and to his remarkable dedication.
When Mack took over the chair position in 2007, he made it clear that TCA would be run as a business, and, as he said, “Our business is conservation.” Mack led the Board of Directors through the renaming of the organization, recruiting new board members with broad skill sets, and strengthening TCA’s relationship with the National Wildlife Federation, for whom TCA serves as the Texas Affiliate. He personally oversaw the development of TCA’s affiliate partnership network, now totaling 49 organizations. He met with potential donors. He developed the structure of a small staff supplemented by numerous part-time contractors, which has worked very well for TCA and been copied by other organizations.
Mack and TCA discovered each other in the early 1990’s when a strip mine proposal would have surrounded his fishing club and cut off the lake’s water source. One of the club’s board members said, “Whatever you do, don’t call that Ned Fritz!” So of course Mack went home and called Ned, TCA’s founder!
Ned introduced him to Janice Bezanson. Janice consulted colleagues with experience in coal mine issues and compiled a list of actions for Mack to take, which she thought would take months. Mack called back in three weeks, saying, “I’ve done all that; what should I do now?”
The result of Mack’s efforts was that the coal company withdrew its application for a permit to strip mine, saving many square miles of wildlife and fish habitat.
Since then, Mack has been involved in countless TCA projects, pushing for protection of wildlife and recruiting countless friends and strangers to help. He and his wife Catherine (“Cat”) have been generous donors, energetic volunteers, and crucial advisers to TCA staff, and Mack’s board leadership has built a solid foundation for TCA’s future.
After decades in commercial real estate, Mack launched an impressive career in management with Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), where he was the lead negotiator in the purchase of a $100 million railroad system. His work twice netted him DART’s Golden Star Award for Exceptional Service.
Mack’s years of serving the community began with volunteering for Big Brothers and Sisters and leading the petition drive to designate the Turtle Creek Trail in Dallas. He served as president of both the Ferndale and the Gunstream Fishing Clubs, where he was instrumental in creating world-class fisheries.
Mack was named Air and Water Conservationist of the Year by Sportsmen Conservationists of Texas for his work stopping the strip mine. In 2014, National Wildlife Federation honored him with its prestigious Charlie Shaw Award. He served 11 years on Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s State Parks Advisory Committee, whose former chair describes him as “the epitome of a good board member.”
Our hearts go out to Mack’s family and to all those in TCA who have worked alongside Mack for so many years. He will be greatly missed.