Mount Vernon News

Mount Vernon News
January 15, 2013 10:26 am EST


GAMBIER — Thomas Snyder “Tom” Turgeon, 70, Kenyon professor emeritus and an active faculty member in the Department of Dance, Drama and Film from 1972 to 2008, died at his home outside Gambier, Jan. 9, 2013. He had long suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Born in Amherst, Mass., Aug. 8, 1942, Turgeon was a son of Charlotte Snyder Turgeon, a noted cookbook author, and Frederick King Turgeon, a professor of French at Amherst College. From his parents he inherited a passion and talent for French cooking. He also loved spending his summers on the coast of Maine.

Turgeon graduated from Amherst in 1964 and went on to study at the Yale School of Drama, where he earned a D.F.A. in 1968. He taught for four years at Mary Washington College (now the University of Mary Washington) before arriving at Kenyon in the fall of 1972 as an assistant professor of drama. In addition to productions at Amherst, Yale and Mary Washington, Turgeon acted and directed at the Weston Playhouse in Weston, Vt. At Weston, he appeared in numerous plays, taking on such roles as Senex in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” Ben Franklin, in “1776,” and Felix Unger in “The Odd Couple.”

During his 36 years at Kenyon, Turgeon directed more than three dozen plays, including works by Shakespeare, Moliere, Shaw, Noel Coward, Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard. He also directed a 1984 production of “Clytemnestra” that he adapted from the works of Euripides, Aeschylus and Sophocles; and a 2006 production of “Little White Lies,” his translation of “Les Fausses Confidences” by Marivaux. As an actor at Kenyon, Turgeon played Iago, in “Othello,” George, in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and Robert, in “A Life in the Theater.” In 1997, he published “Improvising Shakespeare: Reading for the Stage,” a book presenting the actors’ and directors’ approaches to reading dramatic texts.

In 2007, Turgeon was recognized with Kenyon’s Trustee Teaching Excellence Award. That same year, Kenyon announced the creation of the Thomas S. Turgeon Professorship in Drama, an endowed chair funded in Turgeon’s honor by several of his former students.

Turgeon is survived by his wife of 46 years, Margaret “Peggy” Turgeon; and their two children, Sarah Turgeon, and her husband, Fredrick Perry, of Shutesbury, Mass., and Charles Turgeon, and his wife, Rosemary, of Newburyport, Mass. Other survivors include a brother, Charles Turgeon; a sister, Nan Turgeon White, and her husband, Stephen; and six grandchildren, Alexander, Thomas and Evan Perry, and Charles, Elizabeth and Charlotte Jane Turgeon.

Funeral arrangements are being made by the Dowds-Snyder Funeral Home in Mount Vernon. There will be no calling hours, but a memorial service will take place in Gambier’s Church of the Holy Spirit at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the ALS Association or to the Thomas S. Turgeon Professorship at Kenyon College.

To send the family a private condolence online visit

The Dowds-Snyder Funeral Home is honored to serve the family of Tom Turgeon.

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