The name Anne Dean Turk is permanently displayed on the KC Fine Arts Center for good reason. Anyone who knew her as a teacher comments on her commitment to excellence, not only for herself but for her students as well.
Mrs. Turk died Nov. 1 at age 88.
The impact she had on KC built a foundation for the music program, as nearly every lead music instructor at KC was a student of Mrs. Turk at one time.
In life she inspired others to achieve beyond themselves, and her legacy lives on through the standard of quality for which the KC Music Department is known. The name Anne Dean Turk will never be forgotten, and reverence will always be held in her memory.
Graduating from Longview High School in 1940, Mrs. Turk planted her first roots at KC before transferring to The University of Texas at Austin. In 1944 she earned her bachelor’s degree of music and immediately landed herself among the esteemed performers at Julliard School of Music to study piano pedagogy (the science of education).
Mrs. Turk eventually gained a Master of Arts from Columbia University then came home to Texas to teach at East Texas Baptist University and soon after returned to her KC roots to teach music theory and piano from 1946 to 1982.
“As a student, you wanted to please her,” said Jeanne Johnson, KC Music and Dance Department chair.
Johnson remembers Mrs. Turk as an intense teacher who would ask nothing of her students that she would not ask of herself.
“She would come to work an hour early just to practice her scales and arpeggios before she taught any lessons, and she did that for over 30 years,” Johnson said. “That takes an incredible amount of self- discipline.”
Mrs. Turk began Johnson’s freshman class with more than 30 students, but when that class graduated from KC only three remained.
“She demanded excellence. She expected excellence and you wanted to give it to her. There was a tremendous amount of pressure being one of her students, but at the end you knew you had accomplished something…I remember thinking that if I could pass two years with Anne Turk, I could accomplish anything,” Johnson said.
Johnson also made it clear that nothing came close to Mrs. Turk’s expectations of her until she started her doctoral studies.
Sandy Siler, KC piano instructor, also fondly remembers Mrs. Turk.
“I was in awe of her talent, knowledge and commitment to excellence. I worked harder for her than any other teacher,” Siler said. “As a student of Anne’s, I was always prepared and felt that I spoke through my music.”
Many commendations were awarded to Mrs. Turk during her career, including the Piper Professor award and Woman of the Year by the Longview Federated Clubs. She held many leadership positions throughout her life: being a member of the board of directors of the Longview Symphony League, chairman of Piano Concerto Contest at Kilgore College, National Guild of Piano Teachers and many more.
Mrs. Turk established the still-active KC Bach Festival and the Concerto Program. When KC President Bert Woodruff named the fine arts building in her honor in 1989, seven years after she retired, most would agree that it was very deserved to honor her legacy.
“She established the reputation as a rigorous, demanding and excellent teacher who would not compromise quality or high standards in any case,” said KC President Bill Holda.
Anne Dean Turk is remembered by many people on and off KC’s campus. However the heritage of respect and quality she left for the KC music program will prosper for generations.