Bernard Joseph Turgeon, born February 25, 1924, passed away April 13, 2012 at the age of 88. Born at the Saratoga Springs Hospital near his hometown of Ballston Spa, New York. Moved to San Francisco at the age of 14, crossing the country alone in a Greyhound bus. Attended Lowell High School in San Francisco and graduated in 1942. He attended U.C. Berkeley until he enlisted in the Air Force in early 1943. He was sent to Providence College, Rhode Island for training in Civil Engineering. In March 1944, he was sent instead to the26th Infantry Division, Yankee Div. He landed in Normandy, France on Sept. 8, 1944 and joined Patton's 3rd Army. He was wounded near Morecourt, France Nov. 8, 1944 and spent 4 months in hospital. After his discharge, he worked as a civilian for the War Dept. in Paris.
He met Eliane Maryse Lenoir (Elaine) on VE Day and they married April 20, 1946. They returned to San Francisco to start a family. Bernie went to work as a carpenter, became a general superintendent, then project manager for Claude T. Lindsay in 1952. Bernie was in charge of building hundreds of post-war homes in Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, San Jose, Cupertino, and other Bay Area locations. In 1962, Bernie joined George W. Day in Saratoga as general manager. By 1965, he had supervised the construction of 300 custom homes in the Saratoga-Los Gatos area. In December 1965, he formed what was to be a very successful partnership with Jerry Lohr. They developed land and built custom homes, condos, apartments, and R&D buildings, mostly in the Saratoga area.
He began a second phase of his life in 1971 when he and Jerry Lohr planted 300 acres of grapes in Monterey County. In 1974 they founded the Turgeon-Lohr Winery, and began producing J. Lohr wines. In 1980 Bernie sold the construction business to Jerry Lohr and managed the winery, helped make wines, and helped build the beginning of J. Lohr wines. In 1984, Bernie and his son, Gerry, decided the winery was growing larger than their expectations, chose to sell Bernie's share to Jerry Lohr and start a small label of their own. In 1985 they started the Santa Cruz Brewing Co. and Front Street Pub. In 1986, with a partner, they started Trout Gulch Vineyards, in the Santa Cruz Mountains, making award winning Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Bernie was determined to prove the Santa Cruz Mountain appellation was equal to any in California. He achieved this when his 1995 Chardonnay won a Gold Medal at the California State Fair, Best in the Bay Area Appellation, Best Chardonnay in California, double gold at the Santa Cruz County Fair, and several other awards including a silver medal at the Worldwide Wine Championship in Chicago.
Bernie was also a poet, composing humorous poems for special events and more serious works that sprung from his childhood and wartime experiences. He also composed a small book of limericks after a visit to Ireland. He and Elaine traveled all over the world, taking cruises, tours, and just exploring on their own.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Elaine; his children Jeanne Robbins, Vicki Sandelman, Gerry Turgeon; his grandchildren Aimee Simons, Todd Gilmore, Kyle Gilmore, Rachel Sandelman, Lisette Turgeon, Sam Turgeon; his great-grandchildren Ashley Simons, Bailey Simons, Yves Turgeon, Kate Gilmore, Macy Gilmore; and his nephew Bernard Turgeon.
In lieu of flowers please honor Bernie with a donation to the Humane Society Silicon Valley, 901 Ames Ave., Milpitas, CA 95035.
A celebration of Bernie's life is being planned for Tuesday, June 5 from 5–8PM at the Quinlan Community Center, 10185 N. Stelling Rd. in Cupertino. Please contact Gerry Turgeon or Vicki Sandelman, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
to receive information.