The Convergence of Disability Law and Policy: Core Concepts, Ethical Communities, and the Notion of Dignity
Interview with Rud Turnbull
Produced by Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
Jay Turnbull, Our Best Professor
Rud Turnbull: Let me say that everything that I've done has been informed by my son Jay. He is our best professor. That's what his tombstone says, Jay Turnbull, date of birth, date of death, Our Best Professor. So, as you hear me speak, it's not really Rud Turnbull who's speaking. It's Rud Turnbull voicing something that my son would say if he had had the ability to conceptualize and to speak.
Early on we had to, I had to, decide whether to keep Jay at home with then my first wife, or to put him into a congregate care institution where he would get some help that he couldn't get at home. I made the decision that he had to live outside of our home, and he did for several years, from the ages of 3 until the age of 7. The hardest thing that I've ever done in my life until he died was to put Jay out of my home. My ex-wife and I eventually separated, divorced.
I met Ann Turnbull and when I asked her to marry me, she said yes, but, she said, "The first thing we will do is to bring Jay home." I don't know anybody who would have said that as the condition of marrying. She was a special educator, is a special educator, but she is a person who knew instinctively that the right thing to do was to bring Jay home. And, thus, he became not only my best professor but also Ann's best professor.