Don Turano, 72, a nationally recognized sculptor whose work included commissions at Washington National Cathedral and a bust of Ronald Reagan for his California presidential library, died of cancer Dec. 1 at the Warsaw (Va.) Health Care Center. The former Washington resident moved about 10 years ago to a farm in the Westmoreland County community of Hague.
Mr. Turano worked in materials that included stone, terra cotta, bronze and wood, and on a scale that ranged from small bronze medals to one-ton tablets. The life-size portrait bust of Reagan began with a model created by Mr. Turano at the end of the Reagan administration. Completed in white marble by master carver Vincent Palumbo, the bust is now in the Reagan Library in Simi Valley.
In an interview with Sid A. Levy for The Washington Post, Mr. Turano said he went to meet Reagan at the White House in August 1988 and was amazed at his first encounter with the president.
"I was sitting down when he walked in, and he looked gigantic," Mr. Turano said. "Shoulders out to here -- too much shoulder to get into the portrait. His shoes looked like size 14! And he couldn't have been nicer. He was relaxed and friendly and didn't put on any airs."
Mr. Turano worked for several months from photos and caliper measurements and took the bust back to the White House for a final sitting. "Must I look so stern?" Reagan asked.
"Mr. President," the sculptor said, "this is going to be carved in marble, and if we did you smiling, a hundred years from now, people would look at this and ask, 'What does he know that we don't?' " Reagan shrugged, said okay, and sat down.
Turano created works for the Dunbarton Oaks Research Library, the U.S. Court of Appeals, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the National Geographic Society, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, the World Trade Center, the National Institutes of Health, and religious institutions and banks across the country.
He sculpted bronze medals for the Federal Aviation Administration, the AFL-CIO, the Interior Department, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and others. Among his silver medal commissions was the Louis Sullivan Award for Architecture.
He exhibited at galleries, government agencies, universities and other venues. They included the Corcoran Gallery, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Xerox Corp. headquarters in Rochester, N.Y., and the Smithsonian Institution.
He also worked at a Washington advertising agency and taught at George Washington University, the Corcoran School of Art, the Sculptors Studio and other schools.
Mr. Turano was a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and a graduate of what is now the New York School of Painting and Sculpture. He also studied at the Corcoran, the Skohegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine and the Rinehart School of Sculpture in Baltimore.
He moved to Washington during the Korean War while serving in the Army. He was assigned to Walter Reed, where he made prosthetics for wounded soldiers.
For many years, the sculptor worked out of a studio near Dupont Circle. There, he taught and worked on pieces for the National Cathedral and others. Among the cathedral commissions was a statue of St. Hubert of Belgium for the nave south outer aisle as well as a number of small angels.
Mr. Turano also operated a foundry in Paris, Va., and was a consultant to foundries in New Mexico.
He was a member of the National Sculpture Society, the Sculpture Center in Washington, the American Medallic Sculptors Association and the Washington Religious Arts Commission.
Mr. Turano was briefly married and then divorced in New York. His later marriages to Nancy Turano, Anthoula Turano and Cathryn Turano also ended in divorce.
He leaves no immediate survivors.