John R. Turbyfill '53

John R. Turbyfill had a distinguished career in law and corporate management and was a long-time member and chair of the Roanoke College Board of Trustees.

Mr. Turbyfill was born in Newland, North Carolina, and moved several times before his family settled in Salem, where he graduated from Andrew Lewis High School. An honors student, he earned his B.A. in economics from Roanoke College in 1953, graduating as the class salutatorian.  

While enrolled, he was vice-president of the junior class, member of the S.C.A, president of the Blue Key Honor Society, member of Sigma Delta Pi, Number II (vice-president) of the Kappa Alpha fraternity, president of the Baptist Student Union, a track letterman and member of the Monogram Club.  

Mr. Turbyfill went on to earn a law degree from the University of Virginia Law School in 1956, where he served on the board of editors for the Virginia Law Review. He then became an associate with the New York firm of Cravath, Swaine and Moore. In 1960, he joined Roanoke-based Norfolk & Western Railway as assistant general attorney.

He rose through the management ranks to become executive vice president/chief financial officer in 1975. In 1982, he became CFO for the newly merged Norfolk Southern Railway. He was named vice chairman of Norfolk Southern in 1993, a position he held until his retirement in 1996.  

His civic involvement includes officer or board positions with the Roanoke Transportation Museum, Mill Mountain Playhouse, Miss Virginia Pageant, Roanoke Centennial Committee, Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk, Medical Center Hospital of Norfolk and the Greater Norfolk Corporation.

Mr. Turbyfill has served the College in numerous ways, including as president of the Alumni Association, chairman of the Annual Fund Leadership Campaign, charter member of the Society of 1842 and national chair of the College's Sesquicentennial Plan.  

In 1982, he was appointed to the Roanoke College Board of Trustees and became its chairman in 1986. During his 17-year tenure as chairman, the College completed a highly successful fundraising campaign, far surpassing its goal for funding endowed scholarships, additional faculty positions, and new buildings and renovation projects. These included construction of the C. Homer Bast Physical Education and Recreation Center, the addition of the F.W. Olin Hall for the Arts and Humanities, the renovation of the Sections dorms, and the upgrading of athletic fields.  

For his tireless and unselfish contributions of time, talent and leadership, Mr. Turbyfill was awarded the Roanoke College Medal in 1983.

John R. Turbyfill received the Roanoke College Medal in 1983.