Local PE legends Sue and Bud Turner get an artistic tribute along a busy West Seattle street

That photo is the inspiration for the newest signal-box portrait painted by West Seattle artist Desmond Hansen – this time, commissioned as a surprise for the couple in the photo.

That’s Sue Turner, retired Sanislo Elementary School PE teacher, who worked at the school for more than 30 years. She “touched a lot of lives,” according to the group of Sanislo alumni who gathered Saturday morning to surprise her with the box, which is on 16th SW just north of SW Holden, just half a mile from Sanislo:

The portrait depicts Sue with her husband Bud Turner (who was not well enough to be there Saturday). He is a retired educator too and led the Seattle Public Schools PE department until the early 2000s. Together the Turners founded SCATS, a legendary program described this way by The Seattle Times in 2002:

… a child acrobatic team featuring the most skilled tumblers, jump-ropers, unicyclists, jugglers, and handwalkers at Seattle’s Sanislo and Dearborn Park elementary schools. You may have seen them at Sonics and Husky halftimes. Little kids juggling toilet plungers, zooming on unicycles tall as basketball backboards, leapfrogging through each other’s legs (upside-down) while jumping double-Dutch rope.

The Turners’ influence spread beyond Seattle, too – they wrote six well-regarded books for PE teachers.

22 Replies to "Local PE legends Sue and Bud Turner get an artistic tribute along a busy West Seattle street"

  • Ajwren October 25, 2020 (10:17 pm)

    What a fun tribute from the community to this couple!  They’ve obviously touched many local folks!  Nice!

  • Barb October 25, 2020 (10:27 pm)

    What a lovely tribute.

  • WS Fam October 26, 2020 (7:07 am)

    Awesome tribute to great folks!

  • Jimi October 26, 2020 (7:48 am)

    Your pickleball friends are also proud of you!

  • VJ October 26, 2020 (8:01 am)

    Sue is also a Legend on the Pickleball courts!

  • Jennie Drazan October 26, 2020 (8:15 am)

    Sue and Bud are amazing. They were a powerhouse couple of the local and state PE community (and beyond!). I was fortunate enough to get my PE certification through Seattle Pacific University with them at the helm of our program in 2009. You can’t imagine two people with more of a passion to see children succeed. You both touched my life and I’m forever grateful to have known you and be mentored by you. Thank you!

  • Chris Brannon October 26, 2020 (9:15 am)

    True leaders and inspirations. Love that I had an opportunity to learn from both of you. Thanks for all you have done and continue to do to inspire our PE community.

  • Jessica Wilde October 26, 2020 (9:56 am)

    Mrs. T was my PE teacher and I feel so lucky. I wasn’t athletically or acrobatically skilled and she still made PE amazing!

  • Nate Neumiller October 26, 2020 (10:03 am)

    Mrs. T was the best teacher, always had a smile on her face! She loved to teach anyone who wanted to learn from trying a back hand spring to juggling bean bags. When I was 11 she helped coordinate a fully funded trip to Japan for a classmate and me to attend a two week baseball camp with kids from around the world. Needless to say it was the trip of a lifetime! I was able to meet Hank Aaron and even had a 30 minute conversation with the late great Joe Morgan. I am forever grateful for the opportunity she helped provide me! Since I learned it on this trip I think about it every time I eat with chopsticks! ;)Thank you Mrs. T for everything you’ve done for Sanislo and the West Seattle community! This is well desired!  

  • WS REZ October 26, 2020 (10:09 am)

    Sue and Bud are the best. This makes me so so happy to see such a nice tribute. 

  • Stuart Hamilton October 26, 2020 (12:20 pm)

    Sue and Bud were tremendously inspirational to me when I was learning to be a teacher.  I feel so fortunate to have been able to learn from them, and am delighted to see this wonderful tribute.

  • Kris Kauno October 26, 2020 (12:51 pm)

    I was in SCATS at the very beginning in the mid 70’s. I fondly remember standing in line with “Rubber Band  Man ” playing on the loud speaker.  I was 8 yrs old and I was a star.  Seriously, I thought I was the greatest thing that ever happened. Mrs. Turner taught me to do my best in everything that I do.  I never got juggling perfected, but I could ride a unicycle, walk on my hands, double dutch and do some serious whip backs down the mat.  I got good enough at gymnastics to attend private lessons at Hiyawatha Gymnastics club and compete in state competitions.I carry her lessons with me to this day.  Everyone that tries is a champion. Put forth your best effort and you can achieve great things.  Be kind to one another and celebrate our differences.   We were a mixed bag of little kids that stayed after school every day so that we could practice our skills and perfect them.  It was not a chore, we loved every minute of it.  I miss those days and still attempt to try a handstand  or jump rope.  Then I remind myself that  I am 50 and not a little kid anymore.  But for those few moments, I was back in 3rd grade at the gym, looking at Mrs. Turner’s blond curly hair, and thinking to myself that I am a superstar!

  • Margaret Ess October 26, 2020 (2:19 pm)

    Sue and Bud,  how wonderful that this article appeared.  Best of life to two wonderful people who made a great difference in the lives of children.  Peggy Ess

  • Melinda J-S October 26, 2020 (6:00 pm)

    I guest taught for Ms. T a few times and I was initially terrified, as I am not athletic at all and Sanislo kids’ skills were legendary.  A kind and consummate teacher, she had set up stations for the kids to progress through their 30 minute PE period and all I had to do was use a stopwatch to signal moving on to the next station.  (And keeping an eagle eye out for safety!) Thank you, Sue and Bud for creating lifelong PE learners, teaching them skills that I am sure they are continuing to benefit from!  Ms. J.-S.

  • Barb McEwan October 26, 2020 (8:31 pm)

    What a nice tribute to the most amazing department head in Seattle Schools.  Bud was a great example of what a department head should be.  Sue and Bud mentored many other PE teachers and changed the lives of many students.  

  • Cheryl Parks October 26, 2020 (8:43 pm)

    The day was filled with so much love from all the people who were there to celebrate Bud and Sue Turner and I was so happy to be able to share in that celebration! I too was from the SCATS of the 70’s and remember the “Rubberband Man” as well and it just brings a smile to my face. Like so many have mentioned, Sue made us believe we capable of anything and the truth was we were. Not being a self-motivated student when it came to academics, I excelled in the gym. SCATS was the motivation I needed to want to better all around. If I didn’t do well in my other classes, I wouldn’t be able to perform, and being able to perform is what I lived for. I can tell you I never missed a performance. One of the biggest highlights of all our performances was being a part of the team that performed at halftime for the Seattle Supersonics in their championship year! Sue had such an impact on me I wanted to be just like her! I knew when I left elementary school that I wanted to teach P.E. and hope that I could be half the teacher she was. I did go on to fulfill that goal by student teaching with Sue at Sanislo and started teaching in Seattle Public Schools after graduating. Bud and Sue’s continued mentoring continued even after I started teaching. I was able to teach P.E. classes with them through SPU, Western, and UW. After Bud and Sue retired I had the privilege of both of them coming to teach my after-school programs with me and though we didn’t a team like SCATS, we still had some amazing performances that were mind-blowing! I am honored to call Bud and Sue not only friends but family. They were the role models that so many of us needed as children and they let us know that each and every one of us was important and cared about. LOVE you both!

  • Alissa Garza (Sawyers) October 27, 2020 (4:46 am)

    Wow this is absolutely amazing!  I have wondered over the years what happened to Mrs.T. What an amazing teacher and human being. I remember from kindergarten through 6th grade I couldn’t wait for PE class and after school sports. And if she gave you a ride home in her maroon camero you were it! She was the biggest motivator for all us kids and she never let one kid feel like a failure. She was always there for you no matter what. It was a privilege to be in her presence and when bud came around the two of the together well you were just lucky to be in their presence! Some of the fondest memories of my childhood! Way to go Mr ad Mrs T 🤗 

  • Alissa Garza (Sawyers) October 27, 2020 (5:30 am)

    This is awesome, so many fond memories of Mrs. T and SCATS during the late 70’s. She was such a motivational person for us young kids. Always supporting us no matter what. At times she felt like another mom. I remember the after school sports and if you were lucky to get a ride home from her in her maroon camaro. These two were a powerful couple and were all about the kids! I always wondered what happened to Mrs T over the years. So proud of this! Way to go Mr and Mrs T 🤗

  • Reeve Washburn October 27, 2020 (2:18 pm)

    What a wonderful tribute to amazing educators and inspirations! My daughter was in Sanislo SCATS with Mrs. T in the early 2000s, and it was such a memorable experience for all of us. Thank you, Desmond Hansen, for your beautiful artwork!

  • Ann Adachi October 27, 2020 (5:08 pm)

    I am adding a heartfelt thanks as many others have to let Ms. T know what a difference she made for my two daughters Andrea and Celeste who were both in Scats at Sanislo. Sue made a huge, life-changing difference for so many of the kids with her love, devotion & incredible commitment & making PE so FUN! Ms. T. & Bud, you two are legends & there will never be anyone as amazing! (Btw Ms. T, Andrea said to tell you, you are 1 of the best teachers she’s ever had & Celeste still has her unicycle & can still juggle)! :)

  • Raquel Sanchez October 27, 2020 (5:44 pm)

    Wish I could’ve been there to be a part of such a beautiful recognition for an amazing couple who made such a mark in my life. To this day I speak of Mrs T and what an amazing person she was to me, they broke the mold when they made that couple right there!! Wish my children could’ve has the same kind of loving selfless, beautiful people like the T’s!

  • Samantha Garcia October 29, 2020 (6:59 am)

    Wow! What an inspiration for all of us. Great tribute. 

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