Dr. Grant H. Turnwald, professor emeritus of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, died Saturday, Sept. 27 in Blacksburg. He was 71.

A native of New Zealand, Turnwald graduated from the University of Sydney in Australia with a bachelor of veterinary science degree and practiced veterinary medicine in New Zealand for several years. After moving to the United States, he completed a master’s degree in veterinary medicine and surgery from Texas A&M.

Turnwald finished an internship and graduate assistantship in small animal medicine and surgery at Texas A&M before moving to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he accepted a position as an assistant professor of veterinary clinical sciences at Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine. 

After nine years at Louisiana State University, Turnwald and his family moved to Oklahoma to become head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery at Oklahoma State University in 1988.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1998, Turnwald served the veterinary college as associate dean for academic affairs from 1998 to 2009, led the college through important curricular revisions, and updated the college’s professional curriculum.

“He developed new courses in professional foundations, business management, career development, and communication skills,” said Dr. Peter Eyre, who was dean of the veterinary college during Turnwald’s arrival on campus. “He also substantially expanded the college’s new Doctor of Veterinary Medicine student orientation process and presided over the establishment of the mentorship program with the Virginia and Maryland Veterinary Medical Associations.”

Known by his colleagues as a forward thinker and innovator within veterinary education, Turnwald published numerous papers on student selection and the veterinary curriculum and co-authored several textbooks. The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors awarded him with the title professor emeritus in June of 2009.

An avid sailor, Turnwald was a fixture at Claytor Lake. He was the highest winning skipper and was awarded the Claytor Club Championship by the Claytor Lake Sailing Association for six seasons. He also served as the commodore and several other positions for the club. This passion for sailing started early and was fostered on Lake Rotorua in New Zealand.

Turnwald was preceded in death by his wife of 28 years, Carolyn. He is survived by his children John, Jamie, and Jana Scavona; his brother John Turnwald; his sister Helen Parham; and many nieces, nephews, and grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at the New Dublin Presbyterian Church at 5221 New Dublin Church Road, Dublin, VA 24084, on Sunday, Oct. 5 at 9 a.m., followed by his final sail/regatta at Claytor Lake State Park at 2 p.m. Guests are invited to shelter No. 1 to view the race and meet with family and friends. Hors d’oeuvres are appreciated and dinner will be provided at 5:30 p.m.

Per Turnwald’s wishes, a scholarship has been set up at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in his memory. In lieu of flowers, donations should be sent to the Virginia Tech Foundation for the “Grant Turnwald Innovation Award” at 902 Prices Fork Road, Suite 4500, Blacksburg, VA 24061.

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