Posted by William Nunnelley on 2009-11-05


Witold W. Turkiewicz, who taught piano as a member of the Samford University faculty for 42 years, died Thursday, Nov. 4.  He was 79.

Visitation will be Sunday, Nov. 8, at 4:30-7 p.m. at Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church, with rosary and prayer service at 7 p.m.  The funeral mass will be Monday, Nov. 9, at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church.

Turkiewicz joined the faculty in 1955 and retired in 1997.  He was associate professor of music and distinguished artist-in-residence.  As director of the Clift Learning Center, he was a pioneer at Samford in the application of music technology to the learning process.

But Turkiewicz was perhaps best known for his numerous recitals over the years.  He performed with the Birmingham Symphony, Huntsville Symphony, Alabama Pops Orchestra and others.  His annual faculty recital in Wright Center Concert Hall was a much-anticipated event, drawing large crowds. He performed a classical piece as part of last year’s Homecoming salute to his former music colleague, Gene Black.

A faculty resolution on the occasion of his retirement described him as a “congenial colleague to fellow faculty members, and a demanding yet caring teacher.”

Turkiewicz was born in New Castle, Pa.  He held music degrees from the University of Miami (cum laude) and Columbia University, and a diploma from Curtis Institute of Music.

Several of his eight children were Samford students, as well as his granddaughter, former Miss Alabama Amanda Tapley, a current music major.

“When he retired, Forbes Pianos gave him a space to use in their store and he taught all 27 grandchildren how to play the piano,” recalled his music faculty colleague, Bill Bugg.  “As a dedicated and committed teacher, there simply was no better role model.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.