Mary Belle Turner, May 2, 1924 — Jan. 20, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 | 5:57 p.m. CST

Mary Belle Turner, 89, of Columbia passed away Monday, Jan. 20, 2014.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday Jan. 23, at Memorial Funeral Home. Funeral services will be at 9 a.m. Friday at the funeral home, with interment immediately following at Memorial Park Cemetery

She was born May 2, 1924, the daughter of Forrest and Roy Hutchison. She married Waldo F. Turner on Aug. 23, 1946, in Columbia. He preceded her in death in 1991.

Mary Belle was a lifelong Boone county resident, as were her parents and grandparents. She attended Strawn School in rural Boone County for grades 1 to 8 and the University Lab School, graduating from high school in 1942. At age 18, she earned a state teaching certificate and was hired to teach in a one-room schoolhouse at Red Rock School near Harrisburg. She had 12 students in grades 1 to 8. She became the first in her family to earn a college degree, earning a bachelor’s degree in education from University of Missouri in 1946.

That same year, she married her first and only serious boyfriend, Waldo F. Turner. They farmed together in the Midway area, raising Angus cattle, corn, soybeans, chickens, gardens and three daughters. She retired from teaching, but after her daughters were all in school, she worked outside the home. She was employed at Stephens College, House Plan and the University of Missouri Child Study Clinic and the Agronomy Department.

Mary Belle was an educator at heart and remained an active community volunteer with Strawn School, serving as PTA president and in other leadership roles. She was a long-term 4-H volunteer, leading the Strawn-o-Lite 4-H club and teaching 4-H projects in cooking and ham curing. She was also an Extension homemaker. In her work as a secretary, she loved being part of higher education and helping students earn their undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Over her lifetime, she was a member of Fairview United Methodist, Calvary Baptist and Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist churches in Columbia. At Wilkes Boulevard, she was a member of the United Methodist Women and taught kindergarten Sunday school for years. She was a generous donor to the church and especially supportive of Wilkes Boulevard’s role in hosting Columbia’s Loaves and Fishes and Room at the Inn for those in need.

A talented, self-taught pianist, she loved all kinds of music. In addition to leading music for children in the Sunday school program, she played for many community groups. She was also volunteer pianist for Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital chaplaincy.

Mary Belle was passionately interested in current events, politics and good government. Having grown up during the Great Depression, she valued social programs that served the most vulnerable. She was a generous donor for many charities and good causes.

Survivors include daughters Carol Jane Turner and Linda Jo Turner (Dale Brigham), both of Columbia, and Margaret Anne Elkins (Hal) of Liberty; grandson Corey Elkins of Liberty; sisters Mildred Moreau and Lola Pearl Asbury, both Columbia; and numerous nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents; husband Waldo F. Turner; and a brother, Leslie Hutchison.

Memorials are suggested to Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist Church, 702 Wilkes Blvd., Columbia, Mo., 65201, or the Missouri 4-H Foundation, 1110 S. College Ave., Room 152, Columbia, Mo., 65211.

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