LAKE LEELANAU — Robert Turner, 89, of Lake Leelanau, passed away on Thursday, May 8, 2014, at Munson Medical Center. Robert was born on Jan. 23, 1925, in Boston, the son of Charles and Mary (Leonard) Turner.
Robert’s life changed when his sixth grade teacher recommended him for the prestigious Boys Latin School. He used to walk five miles each way to school to save a nickel on the subway. After high school as World War II began, Robert worked in the Boston Navy Yard to make enough money for his first semester’s tuition at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he studied electrical engineering.
Robert joined the U.S. Navy V-12 program as a sophomore in 1943 and thereafter the Navy paid for his education. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from MIT in 1945. Following his graduation from MIT Robert attended Cornell University for officer’s training school, where he became an ensign just as World War II came to an end. One of Robert’s great disappointments was to have missed the opportunity to serve his country on active duty. He was transferred to a naval base at Long Beach Naval Station outside of Los Angeles. A highlight was Robert’s commendation for the “efficient and courteous manner” in which he served as shore patrol for a ship’s company party at the Lakewood Country Club.
Robert was discharged in 1946 and then entered Harvard’s electrical engineering program. Upon receiving his master’s from Harvard in 1948 he began his job at Sperry Gyroscope in New York, where he worked on radar design. Robert considered his time at Sperry to have been the “best education of his life.” Robert got around New York on his 1929 Harley Davidson until the generator blew up in a drag race. In 1954 Robert worked for the U.S. Naval Operations Evaluation Group (OEG) stationed in Japan and the Philippines, where he hiked on Mount Fuji and tested his radars on aircraft carriers.