Marjorie Shepherd Turner , Age :99

Dec 12,1921---Mar 29,2021

Marjorie Shepherd Turner passed away in her sleep on March 29, 2021. She had suffered from a traumatic brain injury in 2017 and had received years of gentle, loving care from the staff at  Sandia Suites and then at the Village of Alameda as well as from the hospice staff of Ambercare, for which her family is very grateful. She was born December 12, 1921 in Beaumont, Texas. She was the youngest daughter of Albert and Mabel Shepherd.


She was given a happy childhood in an old-fashioned world.  Her spirit of independence shone through from the beginning and turned into a fierce independence through the rest of her life. She was very connected to the world and relished deep conversations on many topics. she was a true intellectual and a progressive thinker.


The Great Depression may have worried her parents but her only disappointment was that she had to give up dance lessons. World War II found her at the University of Texas where she earned a B.A. and a M.A. in Economics. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.  After the war and in her late twenties, she was back in graduate school at UT. She was a pioneer of the era as a single mom earning a PH.D. in Economics, a rare achievement for women in the late 1940’s.  


Marjorie began her academic career at the University of Arizona in 1952 and then moved to San Diego State University in 1954 where she became Dean of Women, Professor and then Chair of the Department of Economics. She also served as Director of the Institute of Labor. Her interests were focused upon labor and institutional economics as reflected in her writings. She retired as a Professor Emeritus in 1976. As the only women on the faculty in the department, she championed women’s rights. She was a woman ahead of her time and supported social justice throughout her life. She was an admirer of John Lewis and agreed with hm that we “ought to get in good trouble”.


Marjorie authored multiple books, including Women and Work, the Early American Labor Conspiracy Cases: Their Place in Labor Law,  Joan Robinson and the Americans, and Nicholas Kaldor and the Real World, the latter two being  biographies of foremost economists of the 20th century. In the book Distinguished Women Economists by Cicarelli and Cicarelli, she is described as “a practicing humanist, an ardent institutionalist, and a lapsed Methodist,” as well as “a rebel with a cause” — a liberal Keynesian economist. She was an institutionalist, a Keynesian, and a progressive thinker to the very end.


In the early sixties, she became taken with a colleague, Merle Turner who was a Professor of Psychology. They married in 1962 and went on a sabbatical to Cambridge, England in 1963 as a jump start to their new life together. Merle, who was a navigator in WWII, always wanted to sail. He conspired to take her to sea in the late sixties and they began to sail the coast of California and Mexico. He was later known as Captain when on the boat.  They retired in their mid-fifties with the sea horizon firmly locked in their gaze.


And oh, how they did sail on their 35-foot garden ketch! They traveled to San Francisco, Manzanillo and then, having left teaching behind, to New Zealand and places like Fiji, Samoa and the Marquesas. They stayed in the South Seas for 2 ½ years traveling by boat to many ports of call.  In 1974, they returned to land and settled at Black Butte Ranch in Oregon amongst the ponderosa pines and friendly folks. Always wanting to be at sea as much as on land, they did not give up sailing, for they were to have two more sloops to test the waters of the Great Lakes, the Erie Canal, the Inter-coastal Canals, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Columbia River. In later years, they took freighters across the seas and sailed on sailing ships in the Mediterranean. From her experiences in her youth and on the many voyages later in life, she wrote a fictional novel entitled Once Upon a Time: Parallel Lives and the Voyage of Puffin .


Meanwhile, in respites from sailing, she and Merle both wrote books at their home in Black Butte Ranch in the Cascade mountains, referring to their home as their refuge from the world. They played tennis, cross country skied, hiked, fished and camped. they hosted many dinner parties where one can be assured the conversation was lively. They traveled extensively in their VW Vagabond camper (a sailboat with wheels), always seeking that perfect cup of espresso in various towns along the way. 


Native wildflowers were an important part of Marjorie’s life. As spring approached she would begin to search out flowers wherever she was. At Black Butte, she learned over the years where to go in spring, summer and fall. She would walk along the trails with anyone in tow whom she could get to go with her, and would identify each flower, sticking out her walking stick and gently touching the flower, saying, this is “Tiger lily, this is a Columbine, and this is a ….


Time ran out for her Captain and for owning sailboats in 2005, but she continued reading extensively, engaging with anyone who would engage in conversation, studying Spanish, visiting England, Mexico, Costa Rica and Cuba. She continued to be interested and engaged in the world right up to the near end. She was happy to share her thoughts and viewed conversation as an art form!


She moved part-time to Albuquerque in 2012 and bought a house across the street from her son, David and his wife Molly. She would saunter across the street, come through the door unannounced, eat their Manchego cheese and refer to herself as “the mouse.” The name stuck and her great-grandsons, who were the apples of her eye in the last years, and would come up to her and say, “hey Mouse!” and give her a hug.


So, finally her end came, and she moved on to the next plane of existence. Anticipating her passing, she asked that this be said on her behalf, “bye y’all” (she never got over being raised in Texas) “have fun and try to do some good, because that is all there is.” She was 99 when she passed and wanted everyone to know that she thought she had a good life.


Marjorie and Merle were never ones for cut flowers because “flowers die”! Anyone inclined to honor their lives with a memorial gift that will live on in support of their intellectual curiosity may send a contribution to:  Marjorie and Merle Turner memorial scholarship fund at San Diego State University which supports students majoring in the economics or the psychology departments: or you can make checks payable to: The Campanile Foundation, and reference Turner Endowed Scholarship in the memo line. Mailing address: The Campanile Foundation, Attn: gift processing, 5500 Campanile Dr. San Diego, CA 92182-1968.


She was preceded in death by her parents, Albert Edward and Mable Winnie Shepherd, her sisters Mary Louise Philp, Jane Shepherd Williamson, and her husband Merle Brandt Turner. She is survived by her son, David Shepherd Brookshire and his wife Molly Brooke McIntosh, Merle’s son Michael Merle Turner and his wife Sarah Heron Turner, and two grandchildren: Aaron Carter Brookshire and fiancée Allyson Dee Tapie, and Neil Shepherd Brookshire and partner Cassandra Bissell, as well as by three step grandchildren: Treva Brooke Morath and husband Christian Paul Morath, Carina Suki Pierce and Elliot Daniel McIntosh Pierce and wife Regan Martina Sobaje Pierce. She also leaves four step great-grandchildren: Zachary Elliot James Pierce, Sagan Paul Morath, Eason Brooke Morath, and Naomi Sydney Pierce, as well as a step foster great-granddaughter, Olivia Pierce, as well as a large extended family in Texas and many-many-many friends in San Diego, Black Butte Ranch  and around the world whom merle and she met in their many ports of call. 

We will miss our Mouse and remember her fondly always.