TURK, F. JEROME (20 May 1923 - 6 Dec. 2011). Born in Cleveland and raised in EUCLID, Jerome “Jerry” Turk was a writer, radio and TV director, and producer. He graduated from CATHEDRAL LATIN HIGH SCHOOL in 1940 and was editor of the school newspaper, yearbook, and class valedictorian. His college journalism scholarship to JOHN CARROLL UNIVERSITY was interrupted when he enlisted in the army in 1943.
In WORLD WAR II, Turk was a machine gunner, earned a Bronze star in Europe, served as press chief for the 103rd Infantry Division, and with Ralph Mueller, co-wrote a division history, Report After Action. The book chronicles the individual acts of heroism of the 103rd soldiers, their liberation of Saint Die-Des Vogus, France, and of six death camps in Landsburg, Germany. Report After Action was inducted into the Holocaust Survivors Memorial in Philadelphia and the Treasure Room of the San Die's Municipal Library, San Die, France. "The reason the book is so good," wrote the Chicago Tribune, is because "it was written by a corporal and a private, by exhausted guys who couldn't see why in the hell they had to go over that mountain, but nevertheless did it with the Germans rolling grenades down them."
Postwar, while shuttling between Cleveland and Chicago before settling in Cleveland, he finished his college education at BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE. He worked for Bowmont and Homan Advertising Agency in Chicago and won Advertising Age’s first award for Best TV Commercial, a commercial for Greyhound Lines which included the famous tagline 'leave the driving to us.” Turk represented Fashinger Modeling Agency in the ARCADE and married one of the agency's owners and professional model, Patricia Fashinger, in 1951. Together they had three sons, Jason, J. Brian, and James, and a daughter, Patricia Turk Horvath.
He wrote for the CLEVELAND NEWS and several other advertising agencies, then went out on his own, launching Editorial Features, Inc. His films, radio shows, and documentaries promoted Ohio worldwide.
Turk always loved Cleveland. "I was shocked by Cleveland's inferiority complex," he told THE PLAIN DEALER in 1971. "I was determined to look for the sunny side of the street... We don't have to take a back seat to any area or community of people on Earth. Cleveland's accomplishments are really quite spectacular."
For many years Turk had an office at CINECRAFT PRODUCTIONS, where he worked on projects for many organizations, including Eastman Kodak, the SISTERS OF CHARITY, and the CLEVELAND ELECTRIC ILLUMINATING COMPANY (CEI). In 1968 and ’69, Business Screen magazine listed him as Executive Vice-President of Visual Techniques, Inc., a Cleveland-based SPONSORED FILM studio.
Turk produced CEI's "On Location," a five-minute radio program that aired daily on Ohio radio stations for 18 years - from 1961 to 1979. Bruce McDonald, program director of WJW AM-FM (now WRMR) radio, narrated the shows. Although CEI had used “the Best Location in the Nation" before Turk got involved, his family credits him for popularizing the slogan in his obituary. "Best Location in the Nation" is still used in promoting Cleveland.
In the 1960s, Gov. James Rhodes made Turk one of the original Ohio Commodores. He became their "Grand Commodore" and promoted Buckeye businesses worldwide. Turk also won local and national awards from the Freedoms Foundation, Advertising Age, and the Radio and Television Council of Greater Cleveland. He produced "Speaking of Money,” a weekly 5-minute radio program from 1961 to 1966.
Pulling from his love of history, Turk started Dateline History in 1974, a nationally syndicated weekly newspaper column covering the Revolutionary War as if it were live. Co-written with Edward Walsh, the column was popular because of the country's upcoming bicentennial.
Another Turk project was the CEI’s documentary, The Perry Story (1977), a film built around interviews with the residents and community leaders of the proposed nuclear power plant in Perry, Ohio, on the shore of Lake Erie, 40 miles west of Cleveland.
Turk was known for "filing by piling" on his messy desk and scrambling to meet deadlines. He once jumped on a plane with an overdue script for Eastman Kodak in Rochester, NY, and ended up in Rochester, MN, instead.
Later in life, Turk spent many years as public affairs director for AAA and its Ohio Motorist Magazine editor. Based on their travels, he and his wife co-wrote the magazine's "Two for the Road" column. Phil Hartman, who worked with Turk at the American Automobile Association, said, "He was an inventive guy. He'd sit around staring at the wall, and pretty soon, an idea would come out."
His wife, Patricia, died in 1992. Turk retired from the AAA the following year. The Turks lived in Cleveland, PARMA, and STRONGSVILLE. Jerry and Patricia Turk are buried in Woodvale Cemetery in MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS.