May is here and our 90th Anniversary celebration is still going strong! For this month we wanted to put a special spotlight on our founder, Charlie Turner.
Charlie was born in 1904 and was the oldest of 10 children. While growing up, he worked for his father on their family farm (FM Turner Dairy) in Wilkinsburg. Up until 1930, Charlie ran a milk route where the milk was delivered in barrels via horse drawn wagon.
In 1918 when the Spanish Flu pandemic hit the United States hard and shut everything down, much like what we are experiencing today. When schools were shuttered Charlie was forced to drop out and join his father on the farm. Prior to dropping out of school Charlie was planning to serve his community through becoming a minister. While he never became a minister, he was able to fulfill his vocation of serving those around him through farming and providing food for those in need.
When the Great Depression hit in 1929, Charlie decided to start his own dairy so that he could extend credit to customers during the hard time they were facing. He decided to start in Penn Hills because at the time there were more cows than people roaming the land. Charlie approached our first ever employee, Grace Frye, and offered to pay the taxes and take care of the land on Jefferson Rd in Penn Hills so that she would not lose it.
In April 1930, Chas G Turner Dairy was founded (changed to Turner Dairy Farms, Inc. in 1951). Charlie remained focused on the ethos we still follow today: “Perfect Products. Perfect Service. Treat People Right.” Charlie was described as humble, caring, serving, and generous. In the winters, he was often seen plowing Jefferson Rd and helping people out of ditches in the harsh snow storms. Charlie also felt responsibility for the children in the community. He wanted to make sure he was supplying the best quality milk in schools and hospitals.
In 1956, Charlie helped create the Penn Hills Chamber of Commerce, and in the early 60’s he founded the Penn Hills Service Association where they would take donations of clothes and food to provide free of charge to residents that were in need. He also saw the need for a hospital in the area and helped open up Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville in 1978.
Charlie passed in 1990, but we continue to share the same generosity and care to our employees, partners, farmers, communities, and everything in between.
Charlie Turner is the reason we are still able to provide quality products and service to our communities around Pittsburgh today. From the very beginning, he was always helping any way he could – even in the worst of times. As we move into the 5th or 6th week of quarantine and social distancing, remember the people out on the front lines making sure we are safe. We appreciate you!