03/28/12 — Retired Cherry Hospital engineer receives honor for long career

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Retired Cherry Hospital engineer receives honor for long career

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 28, 2012 1:46 PM

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Don Edwards, right, retired facility maintenance director at Cherry Hospital, was recently named recipient of the Frank B. Turner Award, given to a state government career employee for dedicated public service. The award is presented annually by the state construction office of the N.C. Department of Administration. Also pictured is Roger Leeson, chairman of the award selection committee.

Don Edwards spent 54 years at Cherry Hospital -- growing up on the grounds where his father, Don Sr., was farm superintendent for 37 years, and then his own 30-year career there as campus engineer.

His appreciation for the history there led him to work on creating a monument in 2004 to remember an estimated 700 "forgotten patients" buried on the grounds between 1927 and 1972 and the expansion of Cherry Hospital Museum in 2011.

As facility maintenance manager, Edwards attended the state construction conference in Raleigh "every single year" except one, he said.

It was there that he would meet Frank B. Turner, a lifelong civil servant whose credentials included being combustion engineer for CP&L's operations and contributing to the World War I effort by teaching aeronautical engineering to Navy pilot trainees at N.C. State College.

In 1983, an award was established in Turner's name, recognizing a state government career employee for dedicated public service and for setting an example as a professional.

"Mr. Turner was kind of a godfather or the original one that basically started this whole process," Edwards said. "It kind of dovetails into my career that I have attended this."

He recalls years of being in the audience when the award was presented and the impression it made.

"Mr. Turner was actually living in a retirement home at the time all this started and they would go get him and bring him to the conference and he would speak," Edwards said. "You could really see the fire and spunk in this guy. I loved his personality.

"I actually had the privilege of talking with him, personal conversations with him in the years he came back."

As Turner's health declined, he stopped attending the annual conference. He died in 2000 at age 96.

A few weeks ago, Edwards was notified that he had been chosen as the 30th recipient of the Frank B. Turner Award.

"Really, I never thought it would be me, to be honest," Edwards said. "I was shocked, very floored. This is something else."

Ceremonies were held last week at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. The award was presented by AIA North Carolina, the state chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Consulting Engineers Council of N.C. and the Professional Engineers Council of North Carolina.

The event, sponsored by the state construction office of the N.C. Department of Administration, attracted more than 1,100 contractors, subcontractors, engineers, architects, landscape architects and representatives of state agencies.