Remembering Ralph Turlington 

A headshot of Ralph Turlington

Turlington was part of P.K. Yonge’s first graduating class in 1938 and earned his bachelor’s degree from UF in 1942.

State Representative. Florida’s Speaker of the House. World War II and Korean War Veteran. Commissioner of Education. Professor of Business. Namesake of UF’s largest classroom building and the State Department of Education headquarters. Ralph Turlington (BSBA ’42) donned many titles during his lifetime that spanned 100 years and ended at his home in Durham, NC. He will likely be remembered most for his fight to integrate schools; his citizens campaign that led to the creation of the Florida Lottery; and his push to create a fair apportionment of the state legislature and his role in starting UF’s medical school and center. When he died in May, he still held the title of being elected to Constitutional office in Florida more times than any other person in the history of the Sunshine State. He received the Distinguished Alumnus award from UF and from its (K-12) P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, where he was a member of its first class. His personal collection, the “Ralph D. Turlington Papers” live on at UF’s Special and Area Studies Collections library, on the second floor of Library East. From supporting Gen. George Patton’s Third Army during the Battle of the Bulge to voting on more bills than any other legislator in state history, Turlington’s strength, strategic thinking, passion and staunch moral compass influenced much of our society today. A few of his accomplishments include establishing the current state employee pension system, Florida’s Government in the Sunshine law, Florida’s Consumer Protection Agency and the legislation lowering the voting age to 18. He served on the 1965 Constitutional Revision Commission, and in 1972 led the successful campaign to enact Florida’s first corporate income tax.

May 22, 2021