Turk Biographies

The Turk Pre-Law Program is named for James C. Turk and S. Maynard Turk, two brothers who attended Roanoke College and went onto highly distinguished legal careers. Roanoke College honors these two men not only for their professional achievements, but for their steadfast and loyal support of the College.

James C. Turk

A native of Roanoke County, Judge Turk served in the United States Army from 1943 to 1946 before enrolling at Roanoke College and majoring in Economics. Judge Turk graduated from Roanoke College in 1949, and, following the advice of former Roanoke College Dean Edward D. Myers, applied for - and received - a scholarship from the Washington and Lee School of Law. Judge Turk excelled in law school, serving as editor of the law review and graduating second in his class. At Washington and Lee, Judge Turk was inducted into both Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa.

James TurkFrom 1952 to 1979, Judge Turk practiced law with the Radford, Virginia firm of Dalton, Poff & Turk. He balanced his legal career with service in the Virginia General Assembly, serving in the state Senate from 1959 to 1972 (and as Senate minority leader from 1965 to 1972). In October of 1972, President Richard M. Nixon appointed Judge Turk to the federal bench. Judge Turk served as an active federal district court judge from 1972 to 2003, when he took senior status. As a judge, he has presided over a number of high profile cases - including the 1981 libel case involving Reverend Jerry Falwell and adult magazine publisher Larry Flynt.

Judge Turk and his wife, Barbara, have five children, three of whom attended Roanoke College. The Judge's long list of charitable work and public service includes serving as President of the Roanoke College Alumni Association, as a member of Roanoke College's Society of 1842, on the Boards of Directors for the Radford University Foundation and the C.E. Richardson Foundation, and as a trustee for the Radford Community Hospital. In 1996, Roanoke College awarded Judge Turk an honorary Doctor of Laws degree for his service and devotion to the College.

Photo of Judge Turk

In a 2003 article in the Roanoke Times, Judge Turk was described as "a hard-working man whose judgment is guided by his beliefs about right and wrong." The article quotes Roanoke attorney Jonathan Rogers, who observes that "Judge Turk is a courageous man...[a]nd he really believes in fundamental fairness." The Judge refers to himself as "a public servant" who has "faith in people," adding that in his courtroom "I try to treat people in a way that gives them a sense of worth. I believe every person has dignity and value. Judge Turk's philosophy is reflected in a unique practice that the Judge follows in every case - at the end of a lawsuit or criminal action, he comes down from the bench and shakes hands with the attorneys and the parties involved.

S. Maynard Turk

Photo of Judge TurkPrior to enrolling at Roanoke College, Mr. Turk served in the United States Army during the second World War and saw combat action in Europe. An economics major at Roanoke College, Mr. Turk subsequently attended the law school at Washington and Lee and was an editor on the law review. His legal career began in Virginia, where he was an attorney at the Roanoke law firm of Dodson, Pence & Coulter before becoming in-house counsel for the Radford Army Arsenal in 1954. He remained at the Radford Arsenal until 1959, when he transferred to the Hercules (the owner of the Radford Army Arsenal) home office in Wilmington, DE. Turk worked as an in-house counsel in the Delaware office from 1959 to 1966, when he was named a senior counsel in 1966. He was subsequently the corporation's general counsel in 1976. He was elected corporate secretary in 1980 and assumed the position of Vice-President and general counsel in January, 1982. Turk was elected to Hercules' board of directors in October, 1987. He retired from Hercules in October of 1990.

Photo of Judge Turk While Mr. Turk has been first-and-foremost a practicing attorney, he has been involved in education as well. In 1972, he was elected to the position of Rector of Board of Visitors at Radford University. Mr. Turk served as Rector from 1972 to 1976, and then returned for a second term on the Board of Visitors. Mr. Turk also served a single term as a member of the Board of Visitors at George Mason University. Finally, Mr. Turk also served on the Washington and Lee Alumni Board. In terms of charitable work, Mr. Turk is on the board of directors of the Wilmington Institute and the Kenneth Pike Association in Wilmington, DE.Maynard Turk

During his legal career, Turk was a member of a number of professional organizations. They include the American Bar Association, the Mid-Atlantic Legal Foundation (board of directors), the Virginia Bar Association, the Delaware Bar Association, the American Judicature Society, the Philadelphia Patent Law Association, the National Security Industrial Association, the Southwestern Legal Foundation (Advisory Board), the National Association of Manufacturers, Bar Examiners-Delaware Chapter, and the Manufacturers Chemists Association (Legal Advisory Committee), and the Association of General Counsel. Turk is admitted to practice in Delaware and Virginia, and he is also admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and is registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office