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Oct 27, 2019

Clemson’s Mother-of-the-Year – Cathy Turner

By: Kamryn Walker

Note: The following appears in the Boston College gameday football program.


Cathy Turner has always been a Tiger, but she became a Clemson Tiger in 1970. Nearly 50 years later, she is Clemson’s 2019 Mother-of-the-Year.

Turner grew up in a small town in Alabama and is an alumna of Auburn. She moved to Clemson shortly after graduation, and it did not take long for her to fall in love with Tigertown.

“I love a college town. There is nothing that we do not love about this place.”

The phrase, “There is something in these hills,” definitely applies to Turner, as she believes that Clemson is a way of life.

“Clemson is a lifestyle. It’s not just a lifestyle because I live here, it’s a lifestyle for those who do not, too. It becomes a place that at times becomes bigger than you, but you never feel lost in it. It is a beautiful place.”

Turner’s move to Clemson in 1970 was the beginning of a new chapter in her life. The story of Cathy and her husband, Joe, started a year later. Joe had just accepted a position within Clemson’s Alumni Association, and Cathy had become the assistant dean of women in student affairs. It was very convenient that the two both started their careers in Clemson, as they fell in love and married in 1973.

The Turners have been married for 42 years and have lived in Clemson ever since. They raised three children, Jackson, Anne and Tate. They are proud to recently welcome their sixth grandchild.

Turner’s position as assistant dean of women required her to look over the sororities and room assignments for the women’s dorms. One of her favorite parts of the job was to watch the young women develop into leaders.

The Turners also established the Joe & Cathy Turner Mascot Program Operating Account, which ensures the Tiger mascot remains the everlasting symbol of Clemson’s fierce dedication and devotion.

Turner truly has a passion for people and finds joy in being involved in the community. Much of her time is spent volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, church and the visual arts program at Clemson.

“I love the arts. Everything I do are things that I really value. We helped with big events that would bring art in. I was able to meet a lot of new people.”

Being a part of the Clemson community for nearly 50 years, Turner has witnessed significant growth and change. Clemson was not as established as it is today and had less than half its current enrollment. Clemson could be considered a different world today than it was half a century ago.

“Apartments are everywhere…it is something else. Growth is so good for Clemson.”

She enjoys spending time outdoors and attends many of Clemson’s sporting events. The Turners have been dedicated fans, attending football games for 50 years, missing only seven contests at Memorial Stadium during that time.

Turner is honored, as this award came as a big surprise.

“I’m lucky to receive this honor. It represents every good thing that students want a parent to be involved in their lives.”

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