Official Magazine of the Denver Bar Association

Bye Bye Bowtie


chuck-turner-3002“Who’s Chuck?” asked a young Docketeer at a planning meeting. Heads turned in surprise, wondering who didn’t know Turner, despite his 34 years at both the Denver and Colorado Bar Associations as executive director.

It’s hard to imagine Chuck’s feet not propped on his desk talking on the phone; meeting with officers, staff and volunteers; sporting his signature bow tie; and the way he stops by the kitchen to pinch off a bit of cake left over from a meeting.

Starting in January 2015, you’ll see a new face in the corner office. Chuck will have to pack up the thickly scattered tchotchkes crowded on his desk, his wall, floors, etc. A few months later, when his wife Debbie leaves her job as associate director at Community Resources, Inc., a nonprofit that works with the Denver Public Schools), the two of them will be travelling—but that’s as specific as he knows!


Of course he’ll be missed. And surely future presidents will miss all the strategic, top-secret knowledge he’s gathered from the local bars he visits every year.

Not that he tells people what to do. He may prod, suggest and give past examples—and then he’ll listen. He’s very clear, especially with the staff, that members and volunteers are most important. Once, he even posted a note on the kitchen board: “Remember that members pay your salaries.”


Presidents have many styles and can run into various crises during their tenure. Chuck’s solution is: Wait it out. Next year will be another surprise (that you’ll be able to chuckle about in a few years).

While Chuck could probably nominate people he likes or somehow influence bar elections, he doesn’t. He figures that honor belongs to members, and he would hate to back the wrong horse.

One time, he was overheard saying, after the beginning of a new year: “I’ve decided I’m going to be nicer this year.” He wasn’t. But he did bring some rolls to the bar, left over from a potluck, and put them in the break room. A little while later, the horrible, hard rolls had been totally consumed. He stuck his head in: “I knew it. They’d eat anything. That was a test.”


Chuck is smart and clever, with a great sense of humor, but there’s a part of him that many might not know about.

When a member landed in prison, Chuck often called him, trying to ward off the depression the man felt. He even visited him in Canon City. Chuck stayed in touch with another member in trouble, who had dipped into his COLTAF account. Sometimes, sick members receive cards. All presidents get birthday cards. He’s been at the bedside of members who were dying.

He’s especially interested in fellow Vietnam vets who sometimes stop by. He’s involved with the Veterans Stand Down every year.

Chuck even helps strangers. Years ago, he went to a meeting of some insurance execs. During the steak lunch, a man near him started choking. Chuck jumped to his aid, using the Heimlich maneuver. The second time it worked and the steak popped out. The relieved man said: “Whew. Who thought I’d get saved by an insurance agent?” Chuck laughed and whispered to the man: “Ohhhhhh. It’s much worse than that.”

One could fill many Docket issues with stories about Chuck. And you could fill lots more if you talked to his sweet wife Debbie—and then many more if you talked to Brian, David and Michael, his three sons. Their family continues to grow with the addition of grandchildren, which couldn’t make everyone happier.


We all wish the Turners many adventures and lots of laughter.

Looking Forward: Chuck Turner was recently appointed by the DBA Board of Trustees as a Waterman Fund Administrator. He will be one of five fund attorney-administrators who meet monthly to consider applications for assistance. The Waterman Fund is a charitable trust that provides financial assistance to Colorado lawyers. The trust was created by the will of Anna Waterman, surviving spouse of Colorado’s U.S. Senator, Charles Waterman.

Chuck is off to his next Rodeo!

Join us on Monday, Dec. 8, to wish him happy trails.

The Colorado and Denver Bar Associations will honor Chuck Turner for his 34 years of service as their Executive Director by holding a reception at the Ralph Carr Judicial Center, 2 E. 14th Ave., Denver, starting at 5:30 p.m. in the atrium.

Everyone is welcome to attend! RSVP to lunches@cobar.org or 303-860-1115, ext. 727.

On-street metered parking is available on streets adjoining the building. The most convenient garage to park in is the Cultural Complex Garage at 12th Ave. and Broadway.

Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS