Bulldog Blog

News and Views from the University of Redlands

Making beautiful music through the generations

The Turnquist family celebrates Bill Turnquist ’53 and Marilyn Gould Turnquist ’53 (front row, third and fourth from right) during their 60th anniversary in June 2013. Also pictured are daughters Lynn Turnquist Spafford ’76 (front row, fifth from right), Karen Turnquist Vandenberg ’78 (back row, third from right), and Janet Turnquist Watt (front row, second from right).

Marilyn Gould Turnquist ’53 was at first hesitant about the idea of attending the University of Redlands like her mother, Helen Barker Gould ’21, and uncle, Erwin Barker ’21, but Helen had loved her time at Redlands so much and wanted Marilyn to have the same experience. It didn’t take long for Marilyn to love it, too. 

Marilyn met Bill Turnquist ’53 at her first freshman dance in 1949. He asked her to “share the last dance” with him. She agreed, but she thought Bill was a little too serious for her. However, by their junior year, after working together on committees for many campus projects, she found his seriousness, intelligence, and quiet humor much more appealing. The U of R campus was so important to Bill that he proposed to Marilyn in front of the Administration Building facing Memorial Chapel. They married right after graduating, Bill with an economics degree and Marilyn with a degree in religious studies. A 63-year Redlands love story had begun.

Music was a vital part of Marilyn’s U of R experience, a passion shared with her late husband and their daughters, Lynn Turnquist Spafford ’76, Karen Turnquist Vandenberg ’78, and Janet Turnquist Watt, as well as her beloved cousin, Douglas Gould ’52. Marilyn was part of the “Orange Pepto” deputation group that brought the Redlands experience to other campuses and community groups, and sang in choir and other musical performances. Although not a performer, Bill appreciated the music all around him on campus, and served the U of R as Associated Students of the University of Redlands President his senior year.

When considering colleges, Spafford and Vandenberg only applied to their parents’ alma mater, where the sisters enjoyed the Feast of Lights and other alumni activities on campus while growing up. “I felt the majesty and gloriousness of that music and was drawn to the excellence of the University’s music program,” says Spafford, who became a music major and conducted the women’s glee club for two years, in addition to singing in the concert choir and chamber chorale. “I had many opportunities that I would not have had in a larger setting.” Spafford, who recalls living in Bekins Hall like her grandmother, went on to become a professional musician and music educator.

A multiple subject elementary education major, Vandenberg recalls attending Bulldog football games with her family as a child. As a U of R student, she also sang in the concert choir, followed her grandmother to Delta Kappa Psi (Bill was a member of Alpha Gamma Nu), and credits her Salzburg semester with sparking her enthusiasm for travel. “I loved the friendships I made at Redlands, and from the moment I hit campus, I learned many new things.”

Both Spafford and Vandenberg were inspired by their father’s commitment to his alma mater, including his service on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, President’s Circle Leadership Committee, and Class of 1953 Reunion Committee. Vandenberg says her father, who received the University’s Distinguished Service Award in 1976, also gave his time and treasure to several other organizations—including San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS), where he served on the Board of Directors. “He would have been thrilled with the merger [between U of R and SFTS], with two of his greatest passions coming together,” says Spafford. 

Before Bill passed away in 2016, he expressed a desire to create an endowed scholarship at the University that meant so much to him and his family. In the 2003 memory book for their 50-year reunion, Bill wrote, “Redlands introduced me to my wife, started me on a career, and encouraged me with an ethic of integrity and service. I am nostalgic and grateful.” 

The William H. Turnquist Family Endowed Scholarship will support students studying business or music. “Redlands is where it all started, and music was so important to Bill,” Marilyn says. “It adds so much to one’s life.”

Spafford agrees, “He loved and appreciated music. … Dad wanted the scholarship, so we wanted it, too.”  

For information on how you can establish an endowed scholarship in memory of a loved one like the Turnquist family has, please contact Ericka Smith, senior philanthropic advisor, at 909-748-8357 or ericka_smith@redlands.edu.