Gino and Willie Turchi, seen here at the 2009 Siena women's basketball year-end celebration
Dec. 16, 2012
Gino Turchi H'05, long-time friend, fan and philanthropist to Siena College, passed away Saturday at the age of 96.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, Dec. 20, at 10 a.m. at the Marcelle Athletic Complex at Siena College. Viewing hours are Wednesday, Dec. 19, 3-7 p.m. at the Marcelle Athletic Complex. Interment will follow the Mass on Thurs. at the Turchi Family Plot at the Jonesville Cemetery, Jonesville, N.Y. Arrangements are by Glenville Funeral Home, Scotia-Glenville, N.Y. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the Turchi Family Scholarship, Siena College, attn: Ruth Richards, 515 Loudon Road, Loudonville, NY 12211.
"The Siena College community is saddened to learn of the passing of Gino Turchi H '05. He was a generous and caring member of the Siena College community whose humor and joy touched everyone he met," said Fr. Kevin Mullen '75, O.F.M., Ph.D. "Gino's memory will live on through the Siena College students his philanthropy continues to support. Gino was a fixture at Siena basketball games and other athletic and College events. We will miss him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gino's wife Willie during this difficult time."
Turchi lived an active and inspiring life that touched most members of the Siena community over the past two decades. The Turchi name graces the theater in the Marcelle Athletic Complex (MAC) where athletic teams gather to review game film, as well as the road that takes you there.
Turchi could be found on the Siena campus most days, often in the MAC where he was beloved by staff and student athletes. Gino and Willie were fixtures at Siena basketball game at Times Union Center, and Gino traveled from Tampa to Spokane to cheer on the Saints.
"He was a great friend to Siena College. He was so generous," Siena athletic director John D'Argenio told the Times Union. "Gino was a guy who worked hard throughout his life, enjoyed life and loved being around people."
The relationship began when Gino and Willie set up a trust fund at Siena to honor their late son Eugene who died in 1993. The money from the fund has helped support the College's successful men's and women's golf programs. The Turchis also helped make possible the expansion of the Callanan Field House, where the theater that bears their name is housed.
One of the first loves in Turchi's life was golf. His older brother August (now deceased) was a caddy at the Mohawk Country Club and taught Turchi the rules of the game, and started him caddying at the age of eight. In 1963, Turchi purchased 145 acres of farmland in Ballston Lake to build a golf course, which was the dream of his life.
Turchi built and designed the Northway Heights Golf Club, now Eagle Crest Golf Club, between 1963 and 1967. On December 7, 1980, he made the first hole in one at the course from the back tee of the 17th hole. Turchi was an accomplished golfer and he played the game he loved astonishingly well throughout the later stages of his life.
Golf and Siena athletics weren't the only passions in Turchi's life. As an "angel" support of those in need, he quietly paid the bills for many with medical emergencies or bereavement-associated needs, covering expenses such as hospital stays and travel costs, never expecting any reimbursement for his assistance. Nonetheless, he has received recognitions for his generosity: In 2004, Gino was honored with the Capital District YMCA President's Award for his "outstanding service, unselfish commitment, and dedication." He has long supported the YMCA mission, and his contributions and advocacy have helped that organization to expand the facilities it offers the community. The Turchi Family Center at the Schenectady YMCA, is named on behalf of Eugene.
Siena recognized Turchi with an honorary doctorate degree in humane letters at the 2005 commencement ceremonies. His acceptance speech is framed in the Turchi Theater.
Gino and Willie (92), who married the day after the Wizard of Oz was released in theaters, celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary on August 26.