Lou Turley, 51, a marketing professor and interim head of the marketing department, died last month while scuba diving in Nags Head, N.C.
According to Charles Cameron, Nags Head’s director of public safety, a dive master, another diver and Turley were exploring the Huron, a historical wreck site about 200 yards from the beach.
After descending less than 20 feet to the site and returning to the surface, the dive master realized Turley did not resurface. Minutes later, Turley was seen floating by a surfer. No pulse was found and efforts to resuscitate at the scene and at the Outer Banks Hospital failed.
Cameron declined to comment on the exact cause of death.
Cameron said Turley is the first scuba diver to die in Nags Head in the last 10 years.
“It’s unfortunate that something like this happened. It’s very tragic and our hearts go out to the entire Turley family. They are in our thoughts and prayers,” Cameron said.
Turley began teaching at Western in the fall of 1989. Former students and colleagues recalled their experiences with Turley during his 14 years at Western.
“With Lou, he was always optimistic, enthusiastic and energetic … he was always up and excited,” said Rick Shannon, marketing professor and current interim head of the marketing department.
Turley’s students remember his distinctive way of teaching.
Shawna Cawthorn, director of Western’s bookstore, was a former student who looked up to him as a mentor.
“I owe Lou for everything I have in my life,” Cawthorn said. “I was a junior in college and had no idea of what I wanted to do. “
After taking Turley’s class and seeing his passion for marketing, Cawthorn knew she wanted to pursue a business career.
“He loved what he did so much he made his students love what they did,” Cawthorn said.
Cawthorn said Turley’s teaching skills made his students connect to him on a personal level.
“He didn’t just come in the class and teach straight out of a book. He taught from experience and made you realize how it fit into real life,” Cawthorn said.
His energy and “goofiness” made learning fun Cawthorn said and students, family and friends agreed that he was a wonderful person all around.
“He was very thoughtful, kind and generous. He had a great sense of humor…that’s what made me fall in love with him,”said Turley’s wife Brenda.
Along with his outstanding teaching abilities and outgoing personality, Brenda said one of his qualities that especially stood out was his ability to relate to people.
“He could relate to the youngest child or to the most intelligent academic mind. He had a gift with people,.” she said.
Turley was a loving family man, and always put God first in his life Brenda said. Along with his wife of 10 years, he is survived by four children.
“He loved life,” Brenda Turley said.
Reach Tavia Green at [email protected]