Support for students is a family legacy that has lasted more than 40 years 

Fall 2017 Edition


Thelma and Howard Turtle

Thelma and Howard Turtle

For 40 years, Howard and Thelma Turtle and their family have been supporting students in the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications through a generous scholarship. The Turtles established the Howard West Turtle scholarship for KU journalism students in 1977, and it is awarded each year to students who excel in photojournalism, writing or editing.

Howard Turtle graduated from KU with a degree in journalism in 1936 and was a reporter and editor with The Kansas City Star for 40 years. He was awarded the Bronze Star medal and Purple Heart from action in The Battle of the Bulge in World War II. Howard Turtle and Thelma married in 1946 and had a son, Jim Turtle, and a daughter, Julie Turtle Kirk, who graduated from KU in 1969. Howard Turtle was a trustee of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications and a member of the University of Kansas Chancellor’s Club. For many years, Howard Turtle attended the school’s scholarship and awards ceremony so that he could meet the students who received his scholarship.

“For as long as I can remember, Dad emphasized the importance of a quality education,” Kirk said. “And he frequently expressed his appreciation for the benefits he enjoyed throughout his lifetime due to his educational experience at KU. After Dad retired from the Star and found that he was in a financial position to give back to his community, he and Mom agreed that they wanted to endow a scholarship at the KU School of Journalism.”

Turtle corresponded frequently with the faculty and made a point to offer them a note of congratulations when students excelled in the Hearst journalism competition. Thelma Turtle died in 1995, and Howard Turtle died in 2008, but Kirk and her husband, Michael Kirk, continue to support journalism students through the Turtle scholarship and are members of the school’s Lifetime Donors club.

“The Howard and Thelma Turtle Scholarship is a source of great pride for our entire family,” Kirk said. “It was Mom and Dad's dream that the scholarship financial base would grow. Mike and I are happy to contribute to the original endowment in order to provide more opportunity for promising students interested in pursuing a career in journalism.”