When Malcolm Turner retired from Pittsburg State in June, he left behind an office that spanned 275 acres.

He also left what many at his going- away party referred to as a legacy: hundreds of thousands of images taken during the 30 years that he served as the university’s official photographer.

His photos chronicled daily life, special events, and landmark moments. They captured groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings for at least five new buildings and several that were renovated. They documented announcements and addresses by four university presidents and three decades worth of graduations.

Turner never considered any other career.

“From the day I developed my first photo, I knew,” Turner said.

As a child, he sat with his father –
also a photographer and owner of a local advertising company – as the elder Turner thumbed through the newspaper and described how the images were created and critiqued their composition.

Later, young Turner accompanied his father on jobs. He shot for the yearbook at St. Mary’s-Colgan High School and as a Friday night stringer at football games for the Pittsburg Headlight Sun.

Turner attended school for two years at Pittsburg State in the late 1960s, then transferred to the University of Kansas to earn a photojournalism degree.

After spending a few years at The Chanute Tribune and in multimedia in Dallas, Texas, he came across an ad in the Headlight Sun announced a job opening at Pittsburg State. It was a chance to return home.

“I just jumped at it and away we went,” Turner said. “It was a turning point in my life, and a great decision.”
His career at PSU started in August 1985 in Instructional Media, where he was tasked with creating attractive overheads and slides.

Since then, his career has included the famous, like White House Correspondent Helen Thomas, former First Lady Laura Bush, and former President Bill Clinton. And, it’s included the not-so-famous, like students walking across the Oval and Gorilla fans tailgating.

A few years ago, Turner said that he hadn’t yet pinpointed when he would retire.

“It’s part of who I am,” he said. “Any photographer will tell you that, I think.”

Now, however, he’s decided: He wants to enjoy more time with his wife, Evelyn, their children and grandchildren.

“It’s a job that’s all the time, because things happen all the time,” he said, “and you don’t want to miss it. It’s hard to leave it, but I’m ready.”

“It makes me feel good that I’ve left a good legacy. And hopefully the next person who comes in will continue that and do more great things.”