Tuesday, February 19, 2013

James B. Turner, WGADOSA (1927-2013)

From the Big Rapids Pioneer:
BIG RAPIDS James Bevier Turner, 85, passed away peacefully at home on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, supported by his family's presence and gentle care. Jim was born on May 26, 1927, in Flint, the second son of William H. and Geneva Postal Turner, who preceded him in death. His older brother, William Postal Turner, passed away in 1949.  
James Turner, WGADOSA
In 1948, after serving in the U.S. Army during World War II and continuing his studies in pharmacy, Jim married Helen Joan Moore; together they had two children, Nancy E. (Ed Andres) Turner, of Traverse City, and James J. (Denise Sloan) Turner, of Lansing.

In 1988, he married the former Wanda V. Johnson and enjoyed that nearly 25-year union until his death. They enjoyed many years together and especially enjoyed spending time each summer at Sturgeon Bay. Surviving are his wife, Wanda; his two children, Nancy and James; and two grandchildren, Erin (Ben Scott) Sloan-Turner, of Macomb, Ill., and Patrick Sloan-Turner, of Burbank, Calif.

He will be remembered by two beloved local families, Curtis Erb and his son, Jaden, and Lois and George Helbert, as well as Wanda Johnson family living in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio. Among others are the cronies who were regulars with him on the golf course, those who fly-fished with him on the Au Sable and the guys who swapped lies at the early morning gatherings at Currie's.

Under the mentorship of his maternal grandfather, Jim became captivated with fly-fishing at a very early age. He learned all about fly-fishing, including how to tie his own flies, thanks to his beloved grandfather. As well, he was introduced to golf at age 8; that avocation became another passion for life. He was especially proud of winning the club championship in 1980 at the (former) Meceola Golf and Country Club where he was a member since 1961.

Jim also had a love of music, inheriting that love from his mother who taught piano in the West Michigan area for decades. He especially loved to sing, starting as a member of the boy's choir at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids with his older brother and then continued singing throughout much of his life, most recently under the direction of Bill Donahue in various locations around the area. He also was a very fine cook, especially enjoying preparing breakfast for his grandchildren and wife Wanda.

Jim was an active volunteer in the area as well, chairing the Survivor's Walk for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Mecosta County for 10 years. Additionally, he enjoyed being involved with the Meals on Wheels delivery in Big Rapids; he not only delivered nutritious meals but also provided an essential connection to the outside world and a social respite for those who received the meals.

Professionally, Jim was singularly involved in the practice and teaching of pharmacy and administration of the student academic affairs function at Ferris State University. He graduated from the Ferris State University College of Pharmacy in 1949. He then practiced as a pharmacist in Alpena, Hastings and Cadillac before purchasing the former Fairman Drug Store in Big Rapids in 1960. He operated the store as Turner Pharmacy until 1975, when the store was sold but still functioned as the Turner Pharmacy. Shortly thereafter, he joined the faculty of the College of Pharmacy at Ferris State University as a teacher of pharmacy practice. He quickly moved into administration in the area of student academic affairs, retiring in 1994 as Associate Dean of Student Academic Affairs. He was awarded the Clark A. Andreson Alumni Recognition Award shortly after his retirement.

During his career at Ferris, Jim was a member of the American Pharmacists Association, Michigan Pharmacists Association and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. He also met and collaborated with his cohorts in student academic affairs across the nation on a regular basis. He continued his education, earning a Master of Science degree from Central Michigan University and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Cremation has taken place. In lieu of a traditional funeral, the family will greet friends from 2 to 4 p.m. on March 2, 2013, at the Holiday Inn to celebrate Jim's life.

Memorial contributions may be made to the James B. Turner Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Ferris State University College of Pharmacy. Alternatively, Jim asked that memorial contributions be made to the Mecosta County Habitat for Humanity, Women's Information Services (WISE), the Big Rapids Community Library or the Mecosta County Senior Center (Meals on Wheels and/or Medical Transportation). Hospice of Michigan also is suggested by his family.   (end of Pioneer article)

That's the official line. When growing up in Big Rapids, the Turner Pharmacy was the alternative to the old Martz and Shapley's on the main street, and both places smelled of Robitussin and witch hazel.  Later, as I found myself awash in the often frustrating curriculum of pharmacy at Ferris, Jim Turner was one of those too-rare bright spots in the education sphere there.  His sense of humor was dry and deliciously scewed - and with little provocation he could launch into a Great Carsoni routine or extrapolate from dialogue by Bob and Ray.  He related to me his shock on learning, during his last minute decision to get a retirement physical ("Hey, it was still on the college insurance at that point."), that prostate cancer was a new visitor in his life.  Certainly his bright outlook gave him more time than any physician could have predicted.  "Guess all I have to do now is grow a beard," he said of his retirement in that conversation.  And while his photo above is how many saw him for the past several years, here is the image I recall when thinking of one James B. Turner, The World's Greatest Associate Dean of Student Affairs:  

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