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Saturday, Apr 21, 2018
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Otto: Heywood Turner deserves a lifetime achievement award

It’s not every day someone gets an award named after himself, so when I found out there is now something called the “Heywood Turner Lifetime Achievement Award,’’ obviously we needed to make note of it.

I know Heywood, although only slightly and mostly through his occasional comments on a column or an observation he has of the world.

I knew his late brother Bob Turner better, if only because Bob was an editor at the old Tampa Times where I used to work. Just to give you an idea about Bob, he collected dictionaries (This was back when dictionaries were big books and not some digital spell check on a computer). I happen to have one of his dictionaries. Its pages are littered with notes Bob would insert, almost as if he was editing Webster himself.

But this is about Heywood, who received his award over the weekend from the Life Enrichment Center.

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The center, by the way, is a wonderful asset in our town, a place that has broadened its approach from a social hall where seniors played bingo to what its name implies, a full center of activities from the arts to health. Director Ronna Metcalf has continued to expand the nonprofit’s reach around the county.

Currently the center is holding its annual art exhibition and sale through Oct. 31 at the TECO Public At Gallery on Franklin Street downtown.

TECO is also the connection to Heywood Turner. Although Turner is a member of the Life Enrichment Center board, what is more interesting is his history with TECO.

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I have to tell you right off that there is nothing flashy about Heywood.

He was not an athletic star. He was never a war hero. He isn’t the richest guy in town and doesn’t own the largest mansion in the county. He was never arrested for having seven wives or running drugs out of South America, He’s never been a politician or pretended to be something he’s not.

In fact, after doing a little research, I came to the conclusion that compared to Heywood, his brother Bob seems like one wild and crazy guy with his dictionary-collecting hobby.

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I look at my sons and the last couple of generations and realize that as far as job careers, it seems as if the expectations now are that you will stay somewhere for a few years and then move on. The idea of staying with one company for 20 or 30 years seems less common.

Heywood Turner went to work for Tampa Electric in June 1947 after being released from the Navy. He was an oiler, which is what you think it is, making sure everything was oiled. He took a brief leave of absence to get an engineering degree at the University of Florida. He must have learned something, returning and then leaving again when the Army came looking for him, recalling him to help develop a new radar tracking system in New Jersey.

By 1955 he was back as an engineer, moving around the company. At one point he said that all of the jobs they kept moving him to had never existed in the past. They were only trying to find him something he might be good at. By 1980 he was the senior vice president of production for all of TECO. Today there are a group of people known as “Heywood’s Boys,’’ who all once worked for Turner in some capacity and who now run the company.

Along with that he raised two daughters and a son with his late wife, Mary Louise.

In my book that’s worth a lifetime achievement award.

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