Former CSR Board Member Max Turchen passes away

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Max Turchen, a longtime CSR board member and political activist, passed away Oct. 31 at the age of 94.

“Max was a tireless champion for the rights of retirees and workers, and he will be sorely missed,” said CSR President Tim Behrens. “He was dedicated, hard working and most importantly – he was a good man.”

As a District A director on the CSR Board of Directors, Turchen represented Chapters 4, 9 and 20 in Los Angeles County.     He worked for the state for 31 years, starting in the Department of Employment and retiring as area administrator for the Department of Industrial Welfare, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. Prior to his retirement in 1983, he was very involved with the California State Employees Association (CSEA) and held several elected offices.

He was the co-founder and chairman of EPIC, CSEA’s political action committee, for many years.

He also served as chairman of the California Congress of California Seniors (CCS), which paid him a special honor last December when Congresswoman Maxine Waters presented him with a proclamation of gratitude.

Additionally, Turchen served as chair of the supervisory board for the California Bear Credit Union for many years.

Several retirees said Turchen’s kindness and humor are how he will be remembered.

“When I was first appointed to the board, I received a personal, hand-written, snail-mailed note from Max, welcoming me,” said District D Director Susan Sears.

No matter how busy Max was during his more than 60 years of political involvement, he always had time to explain issues and mentor many of the people he met along the way.

Vivianne Fitzgerald, former Chapter 9 president, said Turchen quickly became one of her mentors as when she retired in 1991.

“I later became his driver and was so lucky to have him share his stories,” Fitzgerald said. “I will miss him so much, but I know he is having a ball in heaven greeting old CSEA, CARA (California Alliance for Retired Americans), EPIC, etc … “

At Turchen’s urging, Donna Hernandez said she succeeded him in the District A position on the CSR board, running unopposed.

“He was such a sweet man, such a ladies’ man with his beautiful, baby blue eyes. We’ll miss him,” said Hernandez.

Turchen was born to Russian immigrant parents in Sturgeon Bay, Wi. During high school, he was class president, quarterback and star in a school play, said Freya Turchen, his daughter. He later graduated from the University of Wisconsin and served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946.

Reflecting on her father’s life, Freya Turchen said: “Dad simply believed that every person is equal, no one is any better than any other and everyone is deserving of what they are entitled to by law.

“He demonstrated that people with common interests are stronger when they join together to work for a cause and can influence those in power (elected officials) to provide better working and living conditions for everyone.”

Besides his daughter, Freya, Turchen is survived by his son, Barry and a sister. He was preceded in death by his wife of 50 years, Geraldine; and a sister.

Contributions in Turchen’s name may be made to the CSEA Foundation Scholarship Fund at: CSEA Member Benefits, 1108 O St., Suite 303, Sacramento, CA 95814. For more information, call (916) 326-4283. Contributions in Turchen’s name may also be made to the American Heart Association in your area or by going to

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