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Siena Supporter Willie Turchi Passes Away

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Devoted Siena fan and supporter Willie Turchi passed away on Tuesday at the age of 96. A fixture on the sidelines along with her husband Gino who predeceased her in 2012, Turchi was loved by those in and around the Siena program.

Here is a copy of the release from Siena Athletics:

Willie Turchi, long-time friend, fan and philanthropist to Siena College, passed away Tuesday at the age of 96.

Former Siena College President and current Provincial Minister of the Holy Name Province, Fr. Kevin Mullen ’75, O.F.M., Ph.D., was a longtime friend of Willie and her husband of 73 years, Gino, who passed away December 15, 2012:

“Upon hearing of Willie’s passing, I looked at my bookcase and saw the bobble-head figures of Willie & Gino dressed in their Siena-gear and I thought – Willie and Gino are together again. They were always a “couple” – a “team” – that reminded each one of us of the beauty of human relationships. They continually invited more and more people into their relationship and they became a magnet, so to speak, that attracted people to them. In their presence, a person witnessed joy, peace, and love.

Willie was a gentle woman who had time for everyone. She always spoke words of encouragement and was a rock to all who knew her. Willie was a woman of deep faith who had a beautiful child-like approach to her relationship with God – she talked to the Lord in prayer regularly and manifested her faith in the way she treated people – always accepting, always kind, and always inclusive. She lived her life influenced by the words that her “daddy” spoke long ago to her as a little girl: “Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe!” May this good woman be at peace forever with her beloved, Gino.”

Willie and Gino married August 26, 1939 – a day after the Wizard of Oz was released in theaters. Together they purchased the Esso station at Thomas Corners in Scotia, which they ran until 1970. Gino often remarked that Willie could change a customer’s oil just as well as he could.

In 1963 they purchased 145 acres of farmland in Ballston Lake to build a golf course, Gino’s lifelong dream. They completed Northway Heights Golf Club, now Eagle Crest Golf Club, in 1967. Gino, Willie and their only son, Eugene “Gigi”, owned and operated the course until 1991.

Gigi died of cancer in 1993 at the age of 46, and Gino and Willie established the Turchi Family Scholarship at Siena College in his honor to support Siena’s golf programs.

The Turchis lived inspiring lives that touched many members of the Siena community. Willie loved attending men’s and women’s basketball games, even keeping score “as well as the official statisticians” according to Gino.  The Turchis also helped make possible the expansion of the Callanan Field House; the theater it houses and road that takes you there bears their name. The couple was also actively involved in the Capital District YMCA. The Turchi Family Center at the Schenectady YMCA is named on behalf of Gigi.

“Willie was such a caring person who enjoyed everyone and everything,” vice president and director of athletics John D’Argenio said. “Her love of life was infectious. She was a great influence on the students and staff in the athletic department and made us all better people.”

Gino and Willie’s legacy will continue to be felt across the Siena campus for years to come as a result of their involvement in the College’s Planned Giving Program.

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