President's Corner: by Art Heitzer     


As we near the end of 2018, we have much to be thankful for. The Milwaukee Turners continue to be viable after 166 years, still and in fact renewed in our commitment to promote "sound minds" in "sound bodies."  Accomplishing this dual goal is not an easy task in any environment. We need -- and greatly value -- your support.

Our historic landmark Turner Hall still stands proudly as a classic, almost at the center of a prime revitalized commercial and tourist area, where buildings 30 years old are sometimes deemed out of date and awaiting the wrecking ball. We've planned and partly implemented restoration of historic artifacts and renovation of the front entrance with new and appropriate signage outside.  

We're blessed with the new "Tavern at Turner Hall," led by one of the most creative operators in the field, Mike Eitel, who also aims to work closely with the Pabst theater group that operates the ballroom. Come and join us in the "Tavern" for our annual holiday party, on Monday December 17, at 6:30pm and let us know how you like it.  Please RSVP, to get free parking in our lot, and bring friends you think might be interested in the Turners!

Our gym -- which some historians say may be the oldest continuously functioning gym in the nation -- is home to our vibrant teaching and climbing community, traditional gymnastics, yoga, the popular aerial silks, and fitness programs for both fully-abled and physically challenged individuals.  

We've been blessed with dynamic partnerships which have strengthened us as well as our partners. Ex Fabula has successfully nurtured and projected captivating and heartfelt storytelling by people from all parts of our often divided community.  We've partnered for the last two years with the Frank P. Zeidler Memorial Lecture Committee, last year in our ballroom with the Pulitzer Prize author of 2017's best history, and this fall overflowing one of MSOE's major lecture halls -- both focusing on injustices that contribute to current America's almost unique problem of "Mass Incarceration." We've launched a critical initiative to cut our Wisconsin prison population in half (down to the level of  nearby states), which has attracted some of finest and most committed minds in the city. And, also under the leadership of our beloved Julilly Kohler, Milwaukee through the Turners now has one of the largest Jane's Walk movements of 200 cities worldwide -- celebrating and working to protect living neighborhoods based on the diversity of the residents and activities, as inspired by Jane Jacobs.

None of this happens in a vacuum, and the poison of racism not only kills and wounds people of color, but pollutes the entire city's atmosphere. We had a successful study group on the "Color of Law" book, which documents the role of federal and local governments in imposing residential segregation based on color, and also depriving millions of African-Americans of home owning equity. We hope to build on that effort in 2019, and also by continuing to partner with Milwaukee's unique resource, America's Black Holocaust Museum.  ABHM is coming back to life physically, a mile straight north of Turner Hall at North and Vel R. Phillips Avenues, just as it has continuously educated people around the globe as an online virtual museum which welcomed over 3.5 million visits from over 200 countries last year (at If you would like to consider joining some members and friends of the Milwaukee Turners in contributing to a matching fund for the ABHM, please call me (414.273.1040, ext. 12) or email me at your early convenience at artheitzer@gmail. com.

We also invite you to contribute to the Milwaukee Turners directly, through your membership, gifts you might consider, as well as your time and talent. Just let me know, contact the, or visit our new website,

Thank you and best wishes for the New Year.

Art Heitzer, President of Milwaukee Turners