Maxine ("Max") Shelly Turner

Age: 22

Class: Senior

Major: Chemical Engineering (Honors Program)

Hometown: Vienna, VA

High School: James Madison (Vienna, VA) - Class of 2003

Died along with Instructor Jamie Bishop and 3 other students in German class.


Audio/Video Remembrances


Personal Remembrances From Family/Friends/Colleagues

In Memory: Maxine Turner, Class of 2003: Memorial webpage put forth by James Madison HS (Vienna, VA)

Facebook memorial page: In honor of Maxine Turner

Submit your personal remembrance for posting here (please include your name and relationship).

Newspaper Remembrance Stories

For Her, Life Was "AWESOME"
(Roanoke Times Profile)

Maxine Turner was accustomed to capitalizing the word “awesome” to describe the job she had lined up after graduating from college and taking some time off this summer.

Less than a month before graduating with a degree in chemical engineering, she was poised to join the Elkton, Md., office of W.L. Gore & Associates, the maker of Gore-Tex, a waterproof, breathable fabric popular in outerwear.

“Not sure what I’ll be doing yet, but they are AWESOME,” Turner wrote of her future employer on her Facebook site. Jane Gardner, a human resources administrator at Gore who was involved with hiring Turner, said, “There are students that have kind of a twinkle in their eye, and she was one of them. She was a bright young woman with a lot of potential.”

In the close-knit cul-de-sac where her parents live in Vienna, Va., two police officers visited the home of her mother, Susan, on Monday night. Her father, Paul, was traveling in the Mideast. He was due in late Tuesday night from Jordan to join Susan Turner and Maxine’s brother, who is in eighth grade.

— Jeff Sturgeon and Rob Johnson (Roanoke Times, 4/18/07)

New York Times Profile:

Maxine Turner, 22, was a senior chemical engineering major from Vienna Va. She belonged to Alpha Omega Epsilon, an engineering sorority and was public relations manager for the Virginia Tech Tae Kwon Do club. She enjoyed volunteering at an animal shelter and hoped to someday breed dogs as a hobby.

'Everything was going her way'
USAToday Profile

Maxine Turner, 22, was about to graduate from Virginia Tech with a degree in chemical engineering. She had a job lined up north of Baltimore and a new car to get her there. "Everything was going her way," said Gil Fegley, her high school social studies teacher.

That was no surprise to her friends. "Max," as she was known, had been preparing for years. When friends suggested skipping her high school's ethics day, her friend Tina Diranian recalled, "She said, 'I can't believe they're asking me to skip on ethics day!' "

At her Vienna, Va., high school, Turner was involved in everything from robotics to swing dancing. "She was lively, vivacious, enthusiastic, engaged. All the good things you can say about a student applied to Max," Fegley said.

"She looked at every challenge or obstacle and took it with full force and didn't stop until she finished it, no matter what it took," Diranian said. "I just knew that she was going to be important."

Washington Post Profile:

When Maxine Turner spent a month working at a Vienna lingerie store this winter, she took her work home. She wrote a blog entry telling women how to fit a bra correctly, and threw in a plug for the store, Trousseau Ltd.: "Check 'em out ladies, it's well worth it!!!"

Putting in extra work came naturally to Turner, 22, a chemical engineering major killed Monday in her German class, just weeks from graduation.

A graduate of James Madison High in Vienna, she had lined up a job starting this summer with W.L. Gore, a technology and manufacturing company in Elkton, Md.

She beat out hundreds of applicants, said Jane Gardner, a college recruiter who interviewed Turner for the job. "I just saw a very bright young woman," she said. "She talked about being a woman going into an engineering world and just her positive energy around that, and her passion for interacting with other women in engineering. I'm just really sad because I'm thinking about how she was on the brink of a really great opportunity and she invested so much of her time completing her degree."

A woman who answered the phone at the home of Turner's parents said the family, which includes her brother, Anthony, an eighth-grader, was too distraught to talk.

Friends posting comments on Turner's Myspace and Facebook accounts reminisced about a "notorious elementary school 'Tina-Turner' duo" and her "awesome strawberry sauce for pancakes."

Paul Fraser, who said he dated Turner for years in high school, recalled swing dancing every Saturday at a club in Tysons Corner.

"We'd dance all night," Fraser wrote in a blog entry. "That was our thing."

-- Tara Bahrampour, The Washington Post

Chronicle of Higher Education Profile:

Maxine Shelly Turner, 22, was so bright that in seventh grade she aced algebra, a year ahead of even the brainiest kids in her Vienna, Va., middle school.

Despite her intellect, she was still down to earth, says her friend of a decade, Brandon T. Strawn.

“She was intelligent but not snooty,” says Mr. Strawn, who ate lunch with her every day when the two were students at James Madison High School, in the suburbs of Washington. “She always had the biggest smile on her face. She was one of the kindest girls I ever knew.”

At Virginia Tech, Ms. Turner studied chemical engineering and was scheduled to graduate in May. She was looking forward, she wrote in an online profile, to working at W.L. Gore & Associates, makers of Gore-Tex, a waterproof fabric used in outerwear.

She helped found the campus chapter of Alpha Omega Epsilon, a professional and social sorority for female engineering students and alumnae. As the sorority’s professional-life chairwoman, she helped make connections with visiting companies and organized career-building events, like dining-etiquette and résumé workshops. In her profile on the group’s Web site, she wrote, “We formed this sorority as a place for females who had never had female friends, as a chance for them to meet great girls with similar interests.”

Ms. Turner herself had many interests. In high school, she was president of the swing-dance club and played in the orchestra. At Virginia Tech, she volunteered at the local animal shelter and, despite her small size, earned a red belt as part of the university’s tae kwon do club.

On a Facebook page dedicated to her memory, a fellow Virginia Tech student, Mike Hickey, recalled that Ms. Turner also made time for friends. Last week, he wrote, she showed up at a local bar to grab dinner with him and a group of friends, even though she had already dressed for a formal dance later that night.

Billy Hughes, another high-school friend, posted on the page, “She was one of those people that just made the world happier. You couldn’t be too upset when she was around. She will be forever missed.”

Ms. Turner was Beth Fairchild’s big sister, or mentor, in Alpha Omega Epsilon. In an e-mail message, Ms. Fairchild wrote that she and other members of the sorority attended Tuesday’s convocation memorializing the victims at Virginia Tech as a group. To honor Ms. Turner, who often showed up with new highlights, they dyed bright-red streaks in their hair, or colored their tips, to “personally show how much we’ll miss Max’s fun and eclectic personality,” she says.

Karin Fischer

Va. Tech victim known for enthusiasm
Associated Press (via Yahoo News)

VIENNA, VA. - Vibrant and determined, Maxine Turner never was the type to cower under an umbrella. When rain struck during a Fourth of July celebration on the National Mall, others dove for cover. Maxine turned her face skyward and let the raindrops kiss her cheeks.

Later, amid grumbling from fellow soggy travelers, she and her mom Susan broke into spontaneous song, belting out, "Always look on the bright side of life."

It could have been her motto. The Virginia Tech senior, killed at age 22 in the massacre that cut short so many young lives, oozed enthusiasm from her 5-foot-1, 110-pound frame. Halloween, swing-dancing, tae kwon do, Zelda, chemistry — she made them all her own.

And she was smart, way smart.

Maxine — Max to her friends — died just weeks before she was to receive an honors degree and start a chemical engineering job with the makers of Gore-Tex in Maryland, an employer she strategically selected because they weren't far from the beach.

"Not sure what I'll be doing yet," she told friends. But she knew her future would be "AWESOME."

Enthusiasm, accomplishment and zest for dreams were common among the 27 students killed by the gunman, who also shot five professors to death before taking his own life. Among the young victims: class jokers, animal lovers, voracious travelers, athletes, musicians, a high school valedictorian.

For all her gifts, Maxine was practical and in many ways understated, her parents remembered in an interview Friday that swung between laughter-filled recollections of a life so fully lived and sorrow over what will never be.

Friends and roommates filtered through her parents' living room, gently adding a few memories but more often silent as Max's parents sketched her life story.

"She was the greatest person ever," her roommate for four years, Michelle Vrikkis, said simply.

And modest. When new arrivals at Tech began comparing SAT scores, Maxine's 1500 — with a perfect 800 on mathematics — would have stood out. "I did pretty good," was all Max would say, her mother recalled.

"She was an amazing girl but you'd never know it," Susan said. "Everyone always seemed surprised when she did these things. It was like, Maxine? Are you kidding, Maxine? She just flew under the radar."

Max's photo leaps from the pages of an album chronicling her four years at Tech. There she is, in a carpet wrestling match, plying her hair-dying skills on a friend, modeling her Zelda costume for Halloween, duct-taped to a window in an unauthorized, only-at-Tech contest to see who could stick up there the longest.

Another picture, showing a sign on her dorm-room doors, speaks of her focus and determination: "Do not be offended, but I really need to work and I will not let anyone in."

President of the swing-dance club during high school, she embraced tae kwon do in college with equal passion. She had earned her red belt and was intent on getting her black belt.

"She wasn't going to get it at what she called a just sort of a 'black-belt factory,'" said Susan. "She wanted to really know it and really be able to do it."

She was an accomplished violinist. She was a youth ambassador to Hawaii. She spent three weeks on a skipjack studying oysters on the Chesapeake Bay, and that was before high school. She packed in so many advanced courses early in high school that she had time for fun electives such as gourmet foods in her senior year.

In college, it was the same story. That was why she had room in her senior schedule for German, and why she was in Norris 207 when the gunfire erupted.

Her mom says everyone assumed Max wanted to take German because it is so connected to engineering. "No," she said. "Maxine wanted to take German so she could understand the lyrics to Rammstein," a German metal band.

About the only thing Maxine didn't embrace was Girl Scouts — "too patsy," remembers Paul Turner, her father.

"She really wanted to be in Boy Scouts, because they did more camping, and Girl Scouts did all this artsy-craftsy thing," added Susan.

Max helped to found Virginia Tech's chapter of Alpha Omega Epsilon, the national sorority for women in engineering. She was an officer of the tae kwon do club. She volunteered regularly at the local animal shelter. She mastered the "Legend of Zelda" video games. (Twilight Princess, from the most recent "Zelda" game, was her buddy icon.)

But call home? Max was too busy. Susan's ringtone for Max was "Mission Impossible" because it was such an event to get a call. But they instant-messaged constantly, and Max would let her playful side come through.

Last week, after Friday night's formal dance, Susan remembers that Max's "away" message said, "I was looking in the mirror and I thought, hmmm, something's missing there. I think a tattoo would look really good there." And then she wrote, "Now that I've completely freaked mommy out, I'm gone for the day."

No tattoos for her, though; she was too needlephobic.

Susan thinks Max's ever-changing hues of hairtips may help show her two sides. By turns red, magenta, blue, and so on, Max washed the color out and stuck with plain blondish-brown hair for her job interviews. Then, when her job at W.L. Gore & Associates was in the bag, she dyed the tips red again over spring break, with mom's help.

Now, her sorority sisters are dying their own hair tips — "to honor the other side of Maxine," says her mother.

Ever practical, Max spent the March break at home despite her friends' efforts to entice her on a cruise. She was eager to start apartment-hunting in Maryland and get in one last dental appointment while still on her parents' insurance.

One day she was scheduled to go to an all-day music festival with friends; instead she went to her 13-year-old brother Anthony's soccer game.

When it came time to select a college, Max immediately wanted Virginia Tech. Her parents made her at least apply to some bigger-name schools. Even after the acceptance letters from Johns Hopkins and Carnegie Mellon arrived, Max insisted on Tech.

"She stood on that campus and she said, 'This is my school. I don't want to go anywhere else," Susan recalled. "She loved it. Her whole four years.

"It was the right place for her — until Monday."

By Nancy Benac, AP Writer

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Vienna’s Maxine Turner Remembered as ‘Funny, Upbeat’

The Falls Church News-Press (Virginia)

VIENNA, Virginia -- Family and friends are mourning the loss of Maxine Shelly Turner, 22, a vibrant young woman who was weeks from receiving a bachelor of science degree with honors in chemical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic University and embarking on a career with the makers of Gore-Tex.

“Not sure what I’ll be doing yet, but they are AWESOME,” Maxine wrote with typical verve on her site.

The lifelong resident of Vienna, Virginia, was attending what she told her parents was her “dream” college and, in typical fashion, had completed the exacting chemical engineering curriculum so rapidly that she was free to indulge in several electives in her senior year, including classes on film and literature, Chinese medicine and German.  She was slain with classmates and her professor in that German class in Monday’s shooting rampage at Virginia Tech.

As a sophomore, she worked with close friends to found Virginia Tech’s chapter of Alpha Omega Epsilon, the national sorority for women in engineering. On the AOE web site she wrote: “We formed this sorority as a place for females who had never had female friends, as a chance for them to meet great girls with similar interests.” It filled a need, she added, “since Engineering is challenging.”

Maxine was funny and upbeat. After swing-dancing her way through James Madison High School in Vienna – she also played violin in the symphony orchestra – Maxine took up Tae kwon do in college with a passion. She had earned a red belt, a brown belt was in sight and no one who knew this petite but determined young woman doubted that her belt eventually would be black.

Last month, resisting friends’ pleas to join them on cruises or excursions to warmer climes, Maxine spent the week at home in Vienna, scouting apartments in Elkton, Maryland, where she planned to embark at the end of July on her career as a chemical engineer with W.L. Gore & Associates. She also got some dental work done. Ever the practical one, Maxine wanted to see the dentist one last time while still on her parents’ insurance, mother Susan Turner said.

Maxine also had worked as a summer intern and received a college scholarship for the Eastman Chemical Co. in Tennessee, and since age 16 returned repeatedly to work over summers and school breaks at Trousseau, a bridal and lingerie shop close to her Vienna home.

She was extraordinarily close to her grandfather, Ted Malinowski, who retired from a senior post with the Defense Communications Agency weeks after her birth and helped mind the baby in the Vienna home he shared with his daughter and son-in-law. Little Max insisted on calling him Grand-dan until lifelong friend Tina Diranian set her straight in kindergarten that the word actually was Granddad. Max came home and complained to her parents, “Why didn’t you tell me?” They had, but once this strong-minded child had a notion in her head, it was not easy to dissuade her.

The grandfather and granddaughter spent hours together watching Sesame Street. “Her favorite characters were The Count and the scientist,” said her mom, Susan Turner. She tried the Girl Scouts for two years at Louise Archer Elementary School, but decided it was too much arts and crafts and not enough outdoor activities and adventure.

She traveled to Hawaii as a youth ambassador, and one summer spent three weeks on a skipjack studying oysters in the Chesapeake Bay and the next summer went whale watching on a schooner off New England in Johns Hopkins programs for gifted children.

Maxine’s father Paul is from Norwich, England, and Susan’s late mother Joyce also was British. Maxine visited England on half a dozen occasions with her parents and brother, Anthony, 13, an 8th grader at Thoreau Middle School who is, like his sister, a violinist.

Maxine took algebra and geometry in middle school and received an Advanced Placement Program Diploma from Madison in June 2003 that allowed her to jump start her college career with 29 Advanced Placement credits. She received a Marshall Hahn Engineering scholarship and support from Manassas Elks Lodge No. 2512 in addition to the Eastman Chemical scholarship. A frequent volunteer at the animal shelter in Blacksburg, she dreamed of breeding dogs one day.

One friend wrote on her Facebook page — now a memorial — that Maxine “was one of those people that just made the world happier. You couldn’t be too upset when she was around.”

Maxine is survived by her parents, brother, grandfather Ted Malinowski of Vienna, Va., grandmother Patricia Turner of Norwich, England, an aunt in New Jersey, and uncles, aunts and cousins in England as well as Melbourne, Australia.

By Chris Connell

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Short Life Lived to the Fullest
Senior From Vienna Worked Hard, Played Hard

The Washington Post (Saturday, April 28, 2007; B01)

The hair dyeing started when she got to college. Blue, green, purple and red. It was a silly thing, a fleeting indulgence for a young woman serious about her future. But not too indulgent -- Maxine Turner would dye only the very tips of her locks. That way she could quickly get rid of them the second she landed a job interview.

That was Maxine, her friends say, whimsical and practical, fun and studious.

Her friends and family have spent the past two weeks laughing and crying, rocking loud and weeping soft. And yesterday, on a chilly day under a cloudy sky, they gathered for her funeral at Church of the Holy Comforter in Vienna. It was the last in a long week of memorial services in the Washington area, home to six of the Virginia Tech dead.

There were two sides to senior Maxine Shelly Turner, 22, her family and friends said, and the studious side emerged early in life.

After getting on the bus for the first day of kindergarten, Maxine opened her pencil case and wondered: "Are these the right kind of pencils?"

"She never messed around with school," said her friend Tina Diranian, who sat beside her that day on the bus.

One of Turner's favorite "Sesame Street" characters was Count von Count, and she often finished her homework -- especially math -- days before it was due. At James Madison High School, she signed up for the hardest math and science classes, even when it meant she was one of the only girls in class.

"She ended up putting us guys to shame," Darren O'Brien, 22, said.

But when work was done, and sometimes before, all that seriousness would evaporate and a wild, fun streak would emerge.

Turner once volunteered to be duct-taped to a window to win a game. She could quote entire Monty Python movies. She got a big kick out of working at a lingerie store while in high school, cracking up over clueless husbands trying awkwardly to buy something for their wives. And whenever, wherever she heard music, she would rock to it -- dancing, shuffling, even doing homework to the beat.

Turner, a Vienna resident, was accepted to Carnegie Mellon and Johns Hopkins but chose Virginia Tech after falling in love with the campus. The bright green grass of the Drillfield and the stone-facade buildings made it all look like some fairy-tale castle, she told her roommate.

Living with Maxine could be messy at times, but also inspiring. "I was a little more reserved before I met Max," said Michelle Vrikkis, 22, who roomed with her all four years. Maxine took Michelle to her first rock concert, taught her to swing dance and expanded her tastes in music.

"Yeah, she basically taught me how to rock," Michelle said.

After their sophomore year, Maxine, Michelle and 10 other students formed a sorority for engineers. Engineering, they said, was hard enough on its own, but in a field mostly filled with men, it was doubly difficult for women.

A petite woman -- 5-foot-1 and 110 pounds -- she also joined a taekwondo club and was preparing to test for her brown belt. "She said she wanted some way to defend herself, should anything happen," said her father, Paul Turner, 53.

She fulfilled most of her class requirements by her junior year, so she took some fun classes her senior year: Chinese medicine, horror films and beginning German. It was in German class that she was shot and killed April 16.

When her friends learned of her fate, an online memorial sprang up on Within hours, hundreds of friends had joined the site to grieve. And by the next day, they began looking for some way to celebrate her life.

They thought about her fun side, the part of her that loved rocking to the beat. So instead of having a moment of silence in her name, her friends decided they would have a moment of loudness.

Last week, they packed into a bar in Fairfax, put a hard rock band from her high school onstage and yelled out the lyrics to her favorite songs. There was grief in the music -- a loud, angry, bass-thumping sadness -- but there was also affirmation.

"This is how she would have wanted it," Diranian shouted over the noise of the crowd, causing the bar to erupt into cheers as everyone raised a drink in agreement. "I know she's looking down on us and saying, 'Yes, this is the way to rock out my life.' "

Turner's brother Anthony, 13, was surrounded by Maxine's friends. Her death has been especially hard on her brother, Paul Turner said. "Anthony looked up to her, wanted to emulate her," he said. "Maxine played violin, so he wanted to play violin. She was good at math, so he wanted to have strong math skills."

During the past two weeks, her mother, Susan Turner, 52, has spent hours reading the hundred-plus posts on Maxine's memorial on Facebook, poring over the memories of her daughter's friends.

There should have been more time, they all seem to say. With just weeks to go until graduation, Maxine had spent her spring break apartment-hunting with her mother in Elkton, Md. She had been offered several jobs, but the one she had picked, the one she called " amazing," was an engineering position in Elkton with W.L. Gore, the maker of Gore-Tex.

She had chosen the job for practical reasons, her parents said, but also for its proximity to the beach.

There had been other plans as well: to get a black belt in taekwondo, to adopt a dog -- a miniature husky. She had talked about getting a PhD one day and becoming a researcher.

"She was one of those people you knew would change the world one day, make it better," Diranian said. "Now the world will never know."

By William Wan

Virginia Tech Magazine Profile (5/07)

Maxine Shelly Turner, or “Max” to her friends and family, was an honors student from Vienna, Va., set to graduate with a degree in chemical engineering in spring 2007. She was brilliant, beautiful, and extraordinarily talented—although she would have denied all of the above. She excelled at everything she committed herself to, including swing dancing, Tae Kwon Do, schoolwork, violin, or just her favorite video game: Zelda. She made it all look easy.

Like anyone else, she had her quirks—such as her tendency to talk to herself while playing video games, stick her tongue out for photographs, and sprawl on the living room floor in random positions and sing aloud while doing homework with her head phones on. Any given day, Max could be found in her pajamas and bunny slippers, sitting on the living room floor watching cartoons and doing chemical engineering work. She discovered, much to her delight, that Spongebob is on almost 24 hours a day. These endearing traits are undeniably a large part of what made Max so loveably Max.

But don’t let her light-hearted outlook on life mislead you; she was also incredibly motivated and ambitious. During her time here at Virginia Tech, she helped found a chapter of Alpha Omega Epsilon. One of 12 founding members, Max believed in the importance of having a professional sorority for female engineers at a school known for its excellent engineering programs. She was very active within the sorority, holding such offices as community outreach chair and professional life chair.

She was in the Hypatia class that encouraged the university to expand Hypatia from a one-year to a two-year program. She contributed to the Virginia Tech and Blacksburg community by volunteering for the Relay for Life, the Big Event, and the animal shelter.

Definitely a family-oriented person, Max loved her family very much. She was famous for being one of those rare college students who actually talked to her parents practically every day—and enjoyed it! She would regale her friends with tales of her younger brother, Anthony, and his many accomplishments in his academics, violin competitions, and soccer tournaments.

Maxine was fiercely independent and from the age of 15 worked to earn her own money. She was determined to help with all of her expenses: living, university, and otherwise.

Everyone who knew her will miss her greatly, but sadder still is the fact that those who didn’t know her will never have the pleasure. She was truly an exceptional person.

Memorial Scholarship

Through the Virginia Tech Foundation, the Maxine Shelly Turner Memorial Scholarship has been established at Virginia Tech in her memory. For more information and/or to donate to this memorial fund, see VT's Hokie Spirit Memorial Funds page.