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Gian Turci: The Father of Smokers' Rights
14th March 2009
Welcome, life, to Home, at last.
To peace and rest, your battles past.
From faithful service Home to be,
now rest in peace alongside Me.
For years, so long, it’s been your strength
that carried others journey’s length.
O’er many years you’ve proven true;
the faith I have in those like you.
There’s much to do, still in My plan.
There’s so much more I have for man.
Your thanks from Me for a job well done
is to help us now draw all to One.
But first, dear life, come lean on me.
Draw on My strength reserved for thee.
‘Neath yonder tree, at peace, now rest,
you’ve earned it now; you did your best.
Excerpted From “Tree: One Life that Made a Difference,” By Norman E. Kjono
Copyright © Norman E. Kjono 1997
4 November 1950 – 10 March 2009
I met Gian Turci in 1996 when I, along with the other two founders of FORCES, traveled from San Francisco to Vancouver. We were responding to an urgent invitation from a man who had recently stumbled on our Internet site. That urgency compelled us to drop everything, schedule time off from work and rush to Canada. That sense of urgency we soon discovered was one of the traits that made Gian Turci so compelling and, at times, so exasperating.
We three regarded smoking bans, like the one recently enacted in California, as wrong-headed and morally repugnant but after two days with Gian we then knew that the basis for the smoking ban was a fraud. For two grueling days he hammered out exactly what must be done to reverse existing smoking bans and to nip any new ones in the bud. Dispensing information was crucial, he said, but an effective campaign must expand from the then somewhat novel Internet to a larger forum. Politicians, policy makers, the media and the public must be made aware of the truth, which once known would turn the tide.
How naïve we were. Naivety was not a state in which Gian Turci lingered long. It was he who insisted our awkward acronym be applied literally. Scientific force, economic force, cultural force, persuasive force and, above all, political force are the keys to victory.
Gian Turci himself was a force. Born in the still chaotic Italy, defeated and traumatized after World War II, his early childhood was hard. Rising prosperity allowed him to pursue his scientific bent and he was graduated with an engineering degree from the University of Genoa. Instead of taking the easy route and obtaining employment in his hometown he decided to seek his fortune across the Atlantic, moving to Toronto before settling in Vancouver.
Although an immigrant with only a rudimentary grasp of the language he attained success as a mechanical engineer, co-founding a company specializing in the development of alternative fuels for automotive systems. In time the company became a leader in the field leading to the financial independence that allowed him in 1998 to return to Genoa and work full time on transforming FORCES from a loose band of idealists into a self-sustaining organization not dependent upon any one individual. It is somewhat paradoxical that the hard work and determination of one man produced an organization of many that can and will survive his passing.
While pleased with the structure and coherence of FORCES, he was most proud of the massive collection of scientific evidence contained on the web site. No one will ever know the number of days, months and years he toiled to find, categorize, translate and convert to an Internet format the reams of studies and reports, some unavailable anywhere else, which comprise the FORCES Scientific Portal. No monument could be as appropriate for a man who valued truth and logic as ardently as Gian Turci.
I was privileged not only to work side by side with Gian for years but also to call him a friend. While his exhausting work ethic could be fatiguing beyond belief his high spirits and keen sense of the absurdity of his opponents’ agenda of compulsion provided the counterweight required to maintain the thrust needed to restore rationality to a world growing impotent with fear of death. Those who knew Gian and worked with him on common goals knew him as a stern taskmaster but knew him better as a man of generosity, kindness and compassion. His certainty that through the collective effort of honorable men and women the world could be made a better place inspired others to reach as high as they could.
His belief in the efficacy of collaborative production was balanced by his over-arching love of the value, preciousness and dignity of the individual. His contempt for the obsessive and futile pursuit of safety and health and for those who imposed smothering control on free people, threatening to drown society in mediocrity, was withering. He feared we, as a culture of innovative people, were losing the internal motor that makes us strong, descending instead to an infantile state that is both undignified and decadent.
His sometimes dour, yet always hardheaded realism was tempered by a sense of humor, often scatological, vulgar and even profane, that rendered his audience speechless with laughter. A born raconteur, Gian’s stories, even about mundane matters, were spellbinding, making dinner at the Turci’s stretch for hours of sheer hilarity
To label Gian a Type A personality was inaccurate. He was at least an A plus yet did carve out a few precious hours for walks on the beach and through the old streets of the quiet Genoa neighborhood he called home. With him on these jaunts was his beloved wife Anne who tried, often with success, to rein in the excesses of exuberance and despair that are the companions of any man or woman who truly does make a difference. As one colleague noted, Gian wasn't just some head guy everyone loved who ran a nondescript company. He was the Father of Smokers' Rights.
As he wished, he died with his sword in hand, expiring one day after his brain hemorrhaged. A few days prior he was, as always, firmly in harness, logically and methodically drawing up plans, prodding the lax, putting out fires and taking on yet more tasks. He loved life and lived his own to the fullest. A force such as he is rare, burning brightly but often too briefly.
Funeral services were held Friday at the old church in Genoa’s medieval quarter where he was baptized. His two children, his wife and countless people whose dedication to the cause of liberty sprang from him will miss him deeply. I too will miss him and hope that his belief in God, as did so many of his other contentions, will prove to be true so that when I go I can again laugh, argue and be filled with inspiration with Gian Turci.
Andy Ludlow, March 13, 2009