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Germanna’s new Health and Science facility will carry the names of area residents deeply committed to area nursing and health

From Germanna Community College:

Mary Jane O’Neill and her late husband Bob got involved with Germanna under then-President Frank Turnage, whose 21-year term ended in 2007. They became close friends with Dr. Turnage and his wife, Nancy.


The new, cutting -edge facility will be named the Frank & Nancy Turnage Health Sciences Building. A portion of the building will be named the Robert C. O’Neill Wellness Clinic. Some of the funds will go toward nursing and health care training at Germanna’s new Barbara J. Fried Center in Stafford that opened in 2019.


The announcement of the gift at Wednesday evening’s event honoring Dr. Turnage, who passed away in February of 2019, and O’Neill’s late husband was to be a surprise to Nancy Turnage.


Dr. Turnage’s leadership ensured that Germanna survived an enrollment crisis that threatened to close the school in the early 1970s, soon after it opened. He then oversaw a period of growth and expansion, with a new campus built near Cosner’s Corner in Spotsylvania County and a technology center built in Culpeper County.


Mary Jane O’Neill said: “Frank talked Bob into being on the College Board and later on the Foundation Board. We really believe in community college education and really enjoyed being part of that. When he retired he stayed active at the college and Frank and Nancy became really good friends.”


She said she decided that a good portion of the gift should go toward the construction of a new health care training facility projected to open at the Locust Grove Campus in July 2022. It will replace the current building there.


O’Neill added, “Nursing is so important– and there’s a nursing shortage. I thought Bob would want that and that it would be a wonderful way to honor Bob and Frank.”


In an interview from 2017, Dr. Turnage said, “The nursing program saved Germanna more than once,” during a difficult early period in the 1970s when low enrollment might have led to the college closing. “I am proud that people somehow got the message that Germanna is very important, and they didn’t let Germanna die on the vine.” This year marks Germanna’s 50th anniversary.


Germanna has since opened centers in Stafford and Caroline counties and has a total headcount of about 13,000, including students in workforce training courses. During a nationwide trend in recent years that has seen college enrollment generally declining, GCC has continued to see growth in enrollment.


Germanna President Janet Gullickson said: “We should never stop celebrating the good contributions and goodness that went before us. Tonight we celebrate the good of the past through Bob and Frank; the good of the present through Mary Jane; and the good that will come after us through the contributions of Germanna students.”


“With her philanthropy throughout the service area, she has enabled all kinds of organizations to grow their missions and grow their productivity,” said Bruce Davis, Germanna’s special assistant to the president for advancement and head of the GCC Educational Foundation. “Most of (the gift) will support our Allied Health initiatives at the new Locust Grove Campus and also at our Stafford Center with the expansion of Allied Health programs there.”


Nancy Turnage, who has been a psychiatric nurse and real estate appraiser, was Dr. Turnage’s confidant, and has done much work to help the underserved in the community, including being active in the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary.

  Photos: Suzanne Carr Rossi

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