Property from the Estate of H. Lee Turner
As a teenage boy, H. Lee Turner worked as a railroad brakeman, often on the same Santa Fe train as his engineer father. Born in Newton, Kansas, Turner grew up during an era when railroad crews placed a very high value on accurate timepieces. A good watch became essential to calculate speed and distance to the next siding. Freight trains were required to yield track to express trains, and train crews were judged by their ability to make the most distance in the shortest time. The importance of time and its measure made an early impression on the young Lee Turner
Turner went on to study at West Point Academy for one year in 1944 and after his service returned to Kansas for law school. To pay for his tuition, he continued his work as a Santa Fe brakeman and also taught Western Civilization at the college. After graduating from law school, Turner founded a successful law practice in Great Bend, Kansas and added branch offices in four other cities within a few years. Along with his wife, Elizabeth, H. Lee Turner became an early innovator in the use of paralegal assistants and they later became recognized as the founders of the paralegal movement. They also acted as regular speakers at national American Bar Association events.
By 1960 Turner was a legend in trial law, having tried and won over fifty cases a year - a quarter of all civil jury trials in the state of Kansas. During the course of his career, he won various landmark cases ranging from products liability and psychiatric malpractice to the largest award of damages to date for salt water pollution of farmland. "He piloted his twin engine Beech Baron B58 to every county seat in the state, logging 3,500 hours and 700,000 nautical miles traveled.
H. Lee Turner's reputation in United States' courtrooms led to his participation in many of the Advocacy Symposiums in Toronto, Canada as well as the Annual Advocacy Institute at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He was invited back for seventeen years as a result of his extraordinary "mock" trial ratings from the two thousand lawyers and judges in attendance. He was also invited to speak on a variety of legal topics in forty-eight states. Turner chaired the American Bar Association's Section on Paralegals in the 1970's and was one of the founders of the ABA's section of Law Office Economics.
In 1980, Lee Turner was one of the co-founders of the American Law Firm Association, a global network of independent law firms also known as ALFA. And later in 1996 he acted as honorary chairman. This organization now has over seven thousand trials lawyers as members.
But it was earlier, in 1966, that H. Lee Turner acquired his prized Patek Philippe, the reference 2499, third series, with full Arabic numeral dial. His work with the paralegal movement ended up paying off in many ways. Ms. Steffi Pope, a paralegal in the Turner office and daughter of a once executive of Mercedes Benz, traveled to Germany in that year for a vacation with her husband. Lee Turner gave Ms. Pope both the funds and the directive to purchase a uniquely designed Patek Philippe watch. She returned with, as the paperwork described it, a "Gold Herrenarmbanduhr Patek Philippe, Ref. No. 2499, Werk No. 869.340." Purchased from Martin Halbkram, a retailer in Wien, Ms. Pope presented the watch to Turner and described the watch was one of the finest made and one of only a few ever to have been produced.
Lee Turner, a man of varied interests and passions, collected modern art, loved jazz, prized the latest technology and delighted in wearing his watch. His reference 2499 appeared on his wrist only on special occasions: when he won cases, spoke at legal meetings and conference and spent special time with his children and grandchildren. He always treated fine things with care and it was no exception in the case of this watch. After retirement he put this favorite possession safely away except for special occasions when he was known to explain, with a smile, that his watch was getting to be like some of the most valuable modern art he had collected.
We are proud to present the H. Lee Turner Reference 2499; a testament to both the connoisseurship of the man and the inventiveness and technical aptitude of the firm of Patek Philippe.