Richard Franklin Turner

December 15, 1931 to September 6, 2017

Richard was born at home in Courtenay, North Dakota, on December 15, 1931, to Robert and Esther Turner. His family was descended from Scottish homesteaders and Swedish immigrants.

Richard is survived by his wife of 57 years, Joanne; daughter Kathryn, son-in-law Ron,

granddaughter Sierra; son John, daughter-in-law to be Mary Magdalini, granddaughters Brinsley and Brooke Lynne and their mother Heather. He also leaves sister Mary Ellen in Kensal, ND; sister Ruth and brother-in-law Dale in Larkspur, CO; as well as in-law-siblings Jean, Katherine, Richard, Sandy, and Mary Alice in the greater Toledo, OH area. Numerous nieces and nephews also survive Richard. He is preceded in death by his parents, brothers Robert and Edgar, sister Audrey, brothers-in-law Hubert and Milton, and sisters-in-law Lois and Ellie.

His early years were primarily spent in Kensal, ND. Richard attended North Dakota State

University, where he received BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering. He later received a certificate in Nuclear Engineering from Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago. This training included one semester of graduate study at North Carolina State University. He was a registered professional engineer in California for both Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering. Richard was a past chairman of the San Diego Section of the American Nuclear Society.

He served two years as a First Lieutenant in the Air Force during the final year of the Korean War. He began his engineering career at Collins Radio Company in Cedar Rapids, IA, working on aircraft communication equipment. This was followed by his two years in the Air Force, where he served in computer equipment development at the Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tullahoma, TN. In his nuclear work, he served as a program analyst at the US Atomic Energy Commission in Washington, DC for two years, before he joined General Atomics in San Diego in January 1959. He worked on the development of the High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor at General Atomics for 36 years. During this time he became manager of the Fuel Development Department. He authored and co-authored six patents for reactor fuel designs, including the patent for the fuel elements for the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Reactor.

During the development of larger reactor designs, including the Fort Saint Vrain Nuclear Plant in Colorado, he served as the US representative in the technical exchange for gas-cooled reactor development with Germany, France and Switzerland. Following retirement from General Atomics in December, 1994, he worked part time as a consultant with Technology Insights in San Diego. During his career as an engineer he traveled to Germany, England, France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Japan, Russia and South Africa.

Shortly after moving to San Diego in 1959, Richard met Joanne in a young adult’s fellowship at Christ Lutheran Church in Pacific Beach. Joanne (Josie) was an elementary school teacher. Richard and Joanne were married in Toledo in 1960. They have been active members at Christ Lutheran Church for the past 58 years. Daughter Kathryn, son John, and son-in-law Ron are all teachers in the San Diego area.

During retirement years, Richard and Joanne travelled on twelve cruises to many parts of the world and visited all of the national parks in Western US. After retiring from General Atomics, Richard became active in the Kiwanis Club of Pacific Beach for twenty-three years. He has served as the club president, treasurer, and secretary. His leadership with PB Kiwanis provided fulfilling times sharing friendships and support for youth leaders at Mission Bay High.

Over the decades, Richard was a frequent presence at Charger games and Torrey Pines Golf Course. He was so proud to watch his granddaughters’ musical, acting, and athletic events.

Richard will be loved and missed. He is at peace with God joining the church triumphant on September 6, 2017.

A memorial service will be on Saturday, September 23 at 3 p.m. at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Pacific Beach located at 4761 Cass Street, San Diego.


In lieu of flowers donations may be made in memory of Richard Turner to one of the following charities that were important to him.

1. Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Pacific Beach
4761 Cass Street
San Diego, CA 92109

2. Ann Carlsen Center (a school for children with disabilities)
701 3rd Street Northwest
Jamestown, ND, 58402

3. P.B. Kiwanis Youth Foundation
P.O. Box 90003
San Diego, CA 92169

Celebration of Life