Joanne Turner Bio

Joanne Turner was born in 1931 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Because her father was frequently transferred as he advanced in his career, Joanne’s childhood was spent in many places. Perhaps this is where she acquired her wanderlust.

She graduated from Penn State in 1953 with a degree in chemistry. A summer job at a girl scout camp in Cheyenne gave her a taste of the west. Joanne returned to the east to take a position with General Electric in Cincinnati. She later transferred to Schenectady, NY.

Joanne’s 1st husband was an assistant professor of geology at Penn State. They had 1 son.

Dr. Rob Bonnichson, a friend of her husband’s, was a professor at the University of Maine. He was the director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans. For a number of years he excavated a site in Southern Idaho searching for pre-Clovis evidence. Joanne accompanied her husband to the site when he worked as a consulting geologist.  She was invited to serve on the board of the Center.

In 1965 Joanne married her 2nd husband. Mort came with 3 teenaged children. He worked for the National Science Foundation in Arctic and Antarctic programs. They moved to Silver Spring, MD. outside Washington D.C. There Joanne was able to take advantage of the museums and art galleries and pursue a career in fine craft jewelry.

One glance around Joanne’s home shows her love for travel. Mort often traveled for his work. Joanne often accompanied him or traveled on her own. The first year of their marriage  they visited the Arctic, traveling by train from Juno to White Horse and back. In 1976 they traveled to New Zealand. In 1977 Joanne accompanied Mort to a geological conference in Calcutta, India.  After the conference Mort returned home, while Joanne spent the next month exploring the Indian subcontinent.

Mort retired in 1985. He had always been interested in archaeology but now he had time to pursue that interest. In summers, Joanne and Mort worked with Earthwatch, doing the geology at Dr. Rob Bonnichson’s site, Mammoth Meadows, in Western Idaho.

There was more time for travel as well. In 1985, a friend, who was a paleontologist at the Smithsonian, was working on dinosaurs in Southern China.  Joanne was invited to join the expedition as the photographer, so Mort accompanied her. In addition to the excavation, they were able to tour China at a time when few Westerners visited the country.

On yet another adventure, several years after Mort retired he became a lecturer on one of the Antarctic cruise ships. They worked on 2 cruises from Chile to Antarctica, one of which took a “detour” by way of the Falkland Islands and beyond, out into the Atlantic to South Georgia and back.  When not out on the raft, she passed the time assisting the tour leader by proof reading the scientists combined report of what had been seen on the cruise.  This was handed out to the passengers to take home.  One complaint, the excellent meals kept repeating for each cruise – hard on the waistline, even with all the physical activity!  After the cruise they concluded the trip with a tour of Chile.

In 1990 their travels took them across Europe to an “Early Man” conference in the USSR. They went to Central Russia, south of Novosibirsk, to see a site settled 30,000 years BP,  by humans from Africa.

In 1988 Joanne and Mort moved to Boulder for the Institute for Arctic and Antarctic Research. Before long they joined IPCAS and the Colorado Historical Society, where they were able to pursue their interest in archaeology and explore the Southwest. One of their most memorable adventures was a trip to Utah,  led by Morey Stinson,  one of our earliest IPCAS members, who is still a member of our Chapter.  

Joanne has also attended PAAC classes and several IPCAS workshops.  She worked with IPCAS volunteers in Jacob Sedig’s Woodrow lab 2012-15.  She has been an at large member of the IPCAS board since 2005.