By Meredith McCulloch
Julie McCay Turner has been named Bedford’s Citizen of the Year for 2016. A resident since 1968 Julie has brought energy, intelligence and grace to her many efforts in community building. “Her smiles and laughter, her curiosity and delight in all things Bedford are irrepressible,” wrote one nominator. “She is the complete volunteer,” said another.
“Thank you,” said Turner. “This is an amazing honor, especially given all of the others who give so much in service to the town. “
She grew up in the Midwest – Hinsdale, Illinois and Dubuque, Iowa – but from the beginning embraced Bedford as her town. She was ready to lend her talents to support many organizations. The common thread in her many volunteer efforts is making connections between individuals and institutions, while encouraging others to participate in the volunteer life that makes Bedford a dynamic town.
Her most recent effort has been as a driving force in starting The Bedford Citizen, an online newspaper serving Bedford. Along with co-founders Meredith McCulloch and Kim Siebert, she saw a need to provide a dependable source of information about the town’s government and community life. She is the Managing Editor, chief photographer, writer, volunteer recruiter and overall facilitator for the Citizen. In that capacity she has drawn upon her understanding of the Town and her vast knowledge of the many individuals who bring their energies to the community.
“The Citizen has focused a long-term commitment to writing that began with preschool thank you notes that my mother would ‘translate’ for their recipients,” Turner shared. She went on to write for school newspapers in elementary and high school, and worked as a stringer for the Bedford Minuteman under editor SueEllen Medd in the 1970s.
She is well known to many through her role as co-moderator with Ron Cordes for many years, and for the past two years with Ralph Hammond of the Bedford Television feature,“Bedford Common,”a monthly interview program about town government, organizations and individuals. A community access producer since 1989, Turner has served as a director on the Bedford TV board for many years and credits her B-TV colleagues with the important work that the station accomplishes.
The list of her volunteer work is long. She was active in Bedford’s League of Women Voters serving as chair of the voter’s service committee, which provided forums and candidate questionnaires to seekers of elected office. She serves Emerson Hospital as a Corporator supporting local fundraising and community outreach, and was for several years the curator for the Emerson Auxiliary’s gallery in the hospital’s main entry hallway. She is an active member of the Friends of the Bedford Free Public Library, and served as a Library Trustee for fifteen years.
She speaks warmly of her deep commitment to the Bedford Historical Society and the preservation of the town’s history. She has served as a director on that board for several terms.
Turner has been active as a member of First Parish in Bedford, serving as clerk of the parish, and helping run the First Parish Plant & Craft Fair which has become a town-wide institution over its 65-plus years. She was active in the Bedford Center for the Arts, and helped to found its photography group.
As Citizen of the Year, Turner will be celebrated in the Bedford Day Parade, at the reception celebrating the Bedford Minuteman’s Change of Command ceremony on September 23 and during the Tree Lighting Ceremony on the Common on December 3.
Paramount to all the work she has done, according to many who nominated her, is the spirit she brings to the task. One nominating writer wrote, “She does all of this with grace, with ease, and with a huge welcoming smile.”