Joe Turner, president and CEO of Great Southern Bank, accepts the 2022 Springfieldian award as his wife, Traci, looks on at the conclusion of the annual meeting March 22 of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by David Stoeffler/Springfield Daily Citizen)

Joe Turner’s lifelong connection to Springfield and his desire to give back to his hometown made him a good fit for one of the Queen City’s most coveted honors, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 Springfieldian award.

“He has quietly and humbly built an incredible organization here in our community,” said friend and colleague Brian Fogle, president of Community Foundation of the Ozarks and a Springfieldian winner in 2010.

The Springfieldian award is the highest honor that the organization gives. It is awarded annually “to an individual who exemplifies outstanding community service, excellence in his or her field and dedication to improving the quality of life for Springfield and its citizens.”

Turner received the award in a surprise unveiling Tuesday evening, March 22, at the chamber’s annual meeting at the Ramada Oasis Hotel and Convention Center.

He was joined by family and friends, including his father, William Turner, who served 25 years as president and CEO of Great Southern Bank until turning over the reins to his son, Joe, in 1999. Joe is the sixth president of the bank. Bill Turner also was honored with the Springfieldian award, in 1979.

“He sets a good example for what a leader should be,” Bill Turner said of his son in a video prepared for the event.

I have been blessed to have the career that I love, and the family that I love, and all right here in the community I love.

Joe turner

In accepting the award before a crowd of nearly 1,000 gathered in the Chamber’s first major post-pandemic event, Joe Turner said: “I have been blessed to have the career that I love, and the family that I love, and all right here in the community I love.”

Joe Turner joined the bank in 1991 as a vice president and commercial loan officer. He worked his way up to being an executive vice president and chief lending officer, then president and the bank’s general counsel.

In the past 23 years, Great Southern Bank grew from $965 million in assets to $5.4 billion in assets. The bank serves 12 states and employs more than 1,100 people at 93 different locations. In 2021, Forbes magazine named Great Southern the No. 1 bank in the United States and the No. 2 bank on the planet in its list of the “World’s Best Banks.”

Turner is a past chairman of the CoxHealth system, a board member and treasurer for Cox Insurance Company, and a board member of the CoxHealth Foundation. Turner also has been involved with United Way of the Ozarks, the Springfield Chamber of Commerce and the Missouri State University Board of Governors.

Former Springfield city manager Tom Finnie, also a friend of Turner’s and a Springfieldian winner in 2002, praised him for being humble as Turner built up Great Southern Bank and found ways to serve Springfield.

“Joe Turner is a low-profile, quiet, homegrown CEO,” Finnie said, “who has made a major impact on our community — and on thousands of people in our community.”

Joe Turner accepts the Springfieldian award.

Turner grew up in Springfield and graduated from Glendale High School. He played football at Drake University and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Turner passed the Missouri CPA exam, and went on to earn a juris doctorate from the University of Missouri School of Law. He practiced law in Kansas City with Stinson, Mag and Fizzell before coming back to Springfield to work for Great Southern Bank.

Since 1957, the Springfield Chamber of Commerce has honored an individual for improving the quality of life of Springfield. Past Springfieldian recipients include: Lester E. Cox (1960), Dr. L.E. Meador (1972), John Q. Hammons (1980), Charlie O’Reilly (1997), Jan Horton (1998), Jack Stack (2000), Johnny Morris (2001), Roseann Bentley (2003), James Anderson (2005), Mary Beth O’Reilly (2012), Thomas J. Carlson (2014), Patti Penny (2017), Sam Hamra (2018), Gordon Kinne (2019), Louis Griesemer (2020) and Warren Davis (2021).

Editor’s Note: Great Southern Bank and the Turner Family Foundation are among donors giving $5,000 or more to the Springfield Daily Citizen. Great Southern Bank also is a sponsor of the Daily Citizen.

Rance Burger

Rance Burger covers local government for the Daily Citizen. His goal is to help people know more about what projects their government is involved in, and how their tax dollars are being spent. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 15 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@sgfcitizen.org or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger