Matthew Edward Turner, son, brother, teacher, coach, mentor, and friend to many, died on February 26, 2021 of natural causes.
Matthew was born to Mark and Linda Turner of Butler, Pennsylvania on June 14, 1973, and had a happy childhood surrounded by his immediate and extended family in the area. Matthew attended Butler Catholic for elementary and middle school, before completing his high school education at Butler High School. Always athletic, it was in Matthew’s freshman year of high school that he discovered a passion and talent for competitive swimming. Matthew went on to major in History and Philosophy as an undergraduate student at Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA. His collegiate experiences were so rich that two of his younger brothers also enrolled and graduated from Mercyhurst College.
After graduating from Mercyhurst in 1995, he spent a year working for Mazza Family Winery in the Lake Erie wine region full time while saving up for graduate school. He went on to complete a Master of Arts in Teaching Degree in 1998 from Union College in Schenectady, NY. After teaching for a few years in the Schenectady area, he began his long-term teaching position at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (BH-BL) High School in 2000, where he taught Social Studies classes for more than 20 years. Matthew was a consummate professional, dedicated to his craft, his students and his athletes. He is remembered as being the first one to school in the morning and one of the last to leave. In his tenure at BH-BL, Matthew taught thousands of students in the humanities and left an indelible mark on many of them. He sought opportunities for his students and colleagues alike outside of the classroom and led exchange trips to Spain, and educational tours throughout Europe, as well as an annual trip for CIVITAS students to Washington DC. As a professional, he continued to pursue educational fellowships and graduate courses in history. He was the first teacher at BH-BL to complete the requirements for National Board Certification and was the longtime advisor to CIVITAS, the HS History, Civics, and Debate Club. The club participated in a number of organized activities including the Model U.N. program. He fostered an environment where students could freely and openly banter, and treated them with the respect of equals. Matthew cared deeply about the success of his students, and leaves a lasting impact on the students of BH-BL, both inside and outside of the classroom.
Matthew was also known by many students as “Turner” as the girls (20 years) and boys (16 years) BH-BL High School swim team coach. Turner’s overall coaching record for the girls was 132-62-3 and 68-95 for the boys team. Both teams were ranked in the top ten in New York State numerous years, under his leadership. Many teams he coached were New York State Team Scholars, NISCA Team Scholars, and many individuals won Academic All-American awards. One team won the Suburban Council Sportsmanship Award. Matthew’s mentorship continued after graduation. He would annually bring back together people he had coached over 20 years through the Alumni Swim Meet that he organized around the Holidays. One of his more famous quotes encompasses his spirit of giving all of yourself to whatever you do and never being truly finished, “Last one, Fast one”, as a promised finish to a tough swimming set… only to have the team complete one more to get the absolute most out of themselves.
Matthew chose to invest in those things that brought him the greatest joy; his extensive historical library that took up one wall of his home, and a comfortable leather chair within which the enjoy said books; his students, friends and family; his favorite diner, the Burnt Hills Cafe, that he often visited; and travelling, particularly to Europe, to ingrain himself in the history and cultures which he taught about with great passion.
Matthew is survived by his grandmother, Betty Lou Turner; parents, Mark and Linda Turner; brothers, Luke Turner (Lauren), John Turner (Elaine), and Andrew Turner (Jamie); and nieces and nephews, Julia, Nora, Martin, Jack, Stanley and Ellie; as well as many Aunts, Uncles and Cousins that loved him dearly.
Visitation will be held from 10:00 am -12:pm Friday for immediate family. An open Mass of Christian Burial will be Celebrated at 12:30 pm at St. Paul Roman Catholic Church, 128 North McKean St. Butler, PA 16001. Interment will follow at St. Peter Cemetery in Butler. Arrangements completed by Geibel Funeral Home, 201 East Cunningham St., Butler PA 16001.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School Matthew Turner Scholarship Fund that memorializes and recognizes the legacy of Matthew at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School.
Checks can be made out to "BH-BL High School" or the "Matt Turner Scholarship Fund" and sent to:
BH-BL High School Attn: Tim Brunson
88 Lakehill Road
Burnt Hills, NY 12027
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