Mary Belle Turner was a lifelong educator

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 | 8:41 p.m. CST; updated 8:50 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 21, 2014

COLUMBIA– Mary Belle Turner was born to be an educator. She saw opportunities for educating at every juncture, her daughter Linda Jo Turner said.Mary Belle Turner

“She loved helping kids achieve their dreams in education,” she said.

Mary Belle Turner of Columbia died Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. She was 89.

She was born May 2, 1924, to Forrest and Roy Hutchison. She married Waldo F. Turner on Aug. 23, 1946.

The couple settled down on a farm in the Midway area to raise their three daughters.

Mrs. Turner dedicated her life to education. At age 18, equipped with a state teaching certificate, she taught 12 students in grades 1-8 in the one-room Red Rock School House near Harrisburg. She later graduated from MU in 1946 with a bachelor’s degree in education.

Her daughter Linda Jo Turner remembered her mother inviting her students to the family farm for "slaughter day" every winter.

“We would pluck and dress the chickens as a family, and she would invite one or two ‘town’ kids she called them," she said. "She delighted in showing the kids where their food came from.”

She worked as a secretary at Stephens College and was a long-term volunteer for the Missouri 4-H Chapter. Her work included teaching cooking and ham curing.

She was a dedicated church member throughout her life, and belonged to Fairview United Methodist, Calvary Baptist, and most recently, Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist.

Wilkes Boulevard Pastor Meg Hegemann remembered Mrs. Turner as a strong, supportive member of the congregation.

“She was a real advocate for people in difficult situations,” Hegemann said. “If she supported something, she fully supported it. She wouldn’t pay lip-service to anything. If she supported it, it got her full attention.”

Mrs. Turner was particularly proud of the church’s role in hosting Columbia’s Loaves and Fishes and Room at the Inn for those in need. She donated generously to many charities and causes.

Her husband, Waldo F. Turner, and her brother, Leslie Hutchison,died earlier.

Mrs. Turner is survived by three daughters, Carol Jane Turner, Linda Jo Turner and her husband, Dale Brigham, both of Columbia, and Margaret Anne Elkins and her husband, Hal, of Liberty; a grandson, Corey Elkins of Liberty; two sisters, Mildred Moreau and Lola Pearl Asbury, both of Columbia; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W. Services will be at 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 24, at the funeral home, with interment immediately following at Memorial Park Cemetery.

Memorial contributions can be left at Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist Church, 702 Wilkes Blvd, or the Missouri 4-H Foundation, 1110 S. College Ave, Room 152.

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