The word came as I was sitting at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport preparing for my flight to New Orleans and VenueConnect that Turner Madden had passed away just two days earlier.
The message came via text and for the longest all I could do was blankly stare at the words on my phone that I wished were not real. Finally, a couple of delayed blinks later, I realized what I was reading was true and that one of our industry’s most recognized personalities in Turner Madden had, indeed, somehow left us.
The particulars concerning his death came in bits and pieces and seemed to all start when he had a serious fall and suffered injuries and complications afterwards. It all seemed so incredibly difficult to digest for a 61-year-old man who otherwise embodied the picture of health and fitness.
I knew Turner practically from Day One when I returned to work at IAVM in April of 2000. He was a frequent Legal Corner columnist for Facility Manager magazine, which meant I actually knew him more by his preferred byline of Turner D. Madden, Esquire. Turner was colorful, he was a character, and above all he was a passionate practicing lawyer who absolutely loved the world of public assembly venues and all it represented.
Turner had the Beltway connections as well. More often than not when he sent me an e-mail it would be of a “heads-up” variety to alert me to something coming down the legal track that we wanted to be aware of and if necessary would be something he would only be too proud to write for the magazine to share with members. I would usually take Turner up on that offer because quite simply I could not think of anyone else who would have greater knowledge of the topic at hand.
“Turner was colorful, he was a character, and above all he was a passionate practicing lawyer who absolutely loved the world of public assembly venues and all it embodied.”
Turner did not hoard his contacts or wealth of knowledge, either. I could always go to him with a story idea I was working on and he would gladly oblige by sharing some valuable names to reach and interview. Tuner would graciously ask in the email if I wanted him to reach out first to help set the stage for the interview. In my profession, this is known as making our jobs so much easier.
During VenueConnect we meet with a small editorial advisory group made up of dedicated individuals from the different venue sectors as well as an Allied member and, of course, Turner. This esteemed group contributes greatly to the editorial that goes into the magazine and Turner always pitched in with his ideas. He was also a great resource in case any of us strayed into topics that might be legally dicey. Turner would throw caution to us and then explain why and more often than not we would agree and move on to the next subject.
My memories of Turner are of someone who was always accommodating, never condescending and genuinely enjoyed the presence of others, whether they were mere magazine editors or those in high-profile circles in Washington, D.C.
I always considered Turner my security blanket if I ever had a question or concern about anything I was writing that could land me in legal limbo. You can do ask this, you can’t ask that, he would offer. His expertise was invaluable and something he readily shared whether it was in an email, on a phone call or as was seen so many years at VenueConnect in meeting rooms where he presented or at the hotel bar where he frequently held court.
Turner was aware that for an upcoming issue of Facility Manager I was working on a feature about the Affordable Care Act that was to go into effect in January 2014. He had shared some contacts for me about the story and wished me luck and told me how valuable he thought this piece would be for IAVM members.
The last time I spoke with Turner was on July 3 as part of the monthly Industry Affairs Council phone conference. Turner presents a legal update during these calls and shares everything going on in various states concerning matters from ticketing to safety standards and more.
“R.V., I’ve got some good news for you,” Turner said on the last call. “The healthcare reform got pushed back a year.”
I think what Turner meant by saying that is that the decision had bought me time—much more time—before preparing this article.
Just like the Turner I knew so well by giving me one more heads up and advance notice.