Cal Football: A Sad Day to be a Bear - Beloved Bud 'Dog' Turner Dies at 84

Photo by Jeff Faraudo

Jeff Faraudo

Bud Turner’s official bio on the Cal athletic website identifies him as a “football operations assistant.”

That generic title doesn’t begin to capture Turner’s value to Cal football.

A part of the program for a half-century, “Dog,” as everyone called him, was an institution within the Bears’ family.

He is best known to generations of Cal football players as the smiling face who met them daily at the north tunnel into Memorial Stadium with a fist bump and his trademark greeting, “It's a great day to be a Bear!”

Piling on to the daily anguish of 2020 — the worst year in most of our lifetimes — Turner died Thursday at the age of 84 after a short stay in the hospital.

Bud "Dog" Turner greets a Cal player before practice

Turner was set to begin his 51st season with Cal football before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the sport in the Pac-12 Conference, at least for now.

Turner has worked with Cal football team since 1970, meaning he had associations with 11 different head coaches — Ray Willsey, Mike White, Roger Theder, Joe Kapp, Bruce Snyder, Keith Gilbertson, Steve Mariucci, Tom Holmoe, Jeff Tedford, Sonny Dykes and now Justin Wilcox.

"Dog Turner was a part of Cal football longer than many of us have been alive," Wilcox said. "He was such a kind and genuine person. I will miss so many things about him, including the welcoming smile he gave to everyone who entered California Memorial Stadium.

"It's really hard to imagine going to lunch and not seeing him in the football offices, heading to practice and not getting getting a first bump from him, or entering the locker room after a game and not seeing him standing there beaming with pride for his team. 

"Dog always said, `It's a great day to be a Bear.' Indeed it is, Dog, but just not as great today. We'll miss you, pal, but we'll always remember you and love you. Go Bears."

It was White, a childhood friend, who gave Turner the nickname “Dog,” apparently in tribute to the toughness he shared with one-time Chicago Bears linebacker and Pro Football Hall of Fame Clyde “Bulldog” Turner.

He was on the sidelines for Sherman White in 1970 through Evan Weaver in 2019. In between, he watched the likes Joe Roth, Chuck Muncie, Ron Rivera, and Russell White, Aaron Rodgers and Jared Goff.

Nine U.S. presidents have served during that same 50-year span.

Turner’s job titles through those generations began with part-time field phone operator for the public address announcer in 1970 and ran the gamut of virtually everything within the football operations sphere. Most recently, he assisted with security and operations during practice and on game days.

A Bay Area native, Turner watched his first Cal football game on Sept. 27, 1947, when the Bears beat Navy 14-7 in front of 83,000 fans — still the largest crowd ever at Memorial Stadium.

Turner twice served in the U.S. Army, in both the 1950s and ‘60s, then spent much of his full-time career as a soil engineer.

He and his wife Joan had three children, Kim, Kurt and Kristi, and seven grandchildren.

*** Here's a video feature Cal produced in 2013: 

Turner was with the Bears for so long it felt like he might be around forever. But in a video Cal filmed about him in 2013, Turner described what he envisioned for his final scene.

“They’re going to have to drag me out of here,” he said. “We’re going to be up on SC about 30 points here and I’ll go down. And like I once told the band, when I go down finally, they’re going to play the fight song as they blow my ashes out of the cannon.”

An idea to which anyone who ever met Bud "Dog" Turner would say, "Hell yes!"

Some tributes to Turner on social media:

Chase Garbers on Turner

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Evan Weaver on Turner

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Alex Mack on Turner

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Luc Bequette on Turner

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Michael Barton on Turner

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Alexis Williams on Turner

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Marcel Dancy on Turner

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Tully Banta-Cain on Turner

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CJ Anderson on Turner

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Monte Poole on Turner

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Shannon Carroll on Turner

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Marques Tuiasosopo on Turner

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Roxy Bernstein on Turner

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Tom Holmoe on Turner

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Tricia Breault on Turner

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Alex Funches on Turner

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Kuony Deng on Turner

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Sandy Barbour on Turner

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Ashley Adamson on Turner

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Cal football on Turner

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Justin Forsett on Turner

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Don't Quit on Turner

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Jaylinn Hawkins on Turner

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Traveon Beck on Turner

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Ben Hawk Shrider on Turner

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Ray Hudson on Turner

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Al Sermeno on Turner

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Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo

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