Tom Turner was the original director for the Summer Theatre Program of Minot State College (MSC). Originally from Eureka, California, he was teaching in Nebraska before coming to MSC to head the drama department. In fact, he set conditions for taking the job at MSC: he would only come if he could direct a summer theatre program. Turner directed the program from 1966-1981. Godspell (1981) was the final play he directed at Summer Theatre.
Turner continued to teach at MSC until the mid-1980s, and directed shows during the academic season for the remainder of his time at the college. Turner was well known for his energy and his inquisitive mind, which prompted him to learn Chinese, among other accomplishments. When he left MSC,he taught linguistics in China. After his work in China, he retired and returned to California, occasionally coming back to watch summer theatre with family members, most recently in about 2009. Tom Turner died in Yountville, California on January 7, 2015 at the age of 87.