Illa Mae Turner

Illa Mae Turner died Monday, Sept. 20, 2010, at her home. She was 76.

She was born Oct. 6, 1933, in Columbia to Hollis and Lizzie Gillespie Foster. She married Charles “Raymond” Turner on Feb. 24, 1951 in Boone County. They were married for 51 years.

Shortly after the two were married, Mr. Turner fought in the Korean War. Mrs. Turner was pregnant at the time, and it took longer than expected for him to return because he was shot in combat. She endured the hardships of having a loved one at war while she carried on at home, her daughter Linda Eagle said.

Mrs. Turner also lost an infant son.

"All of these things make you weather the storms," Eagle said. "I would call my mom the smallest, strongest woman I knew. She was tough as nails, (but) she was as gentle as she was strong."

Raised in Boone County, Mrs. Turner attended Hickman High School. She worked at Newberry's, a department store in downtown Columbia; later, she worked as a medical assistant and retired in 1991.

Mrs. Turner enjoyed decorating and flowers, and she was fond of her canine family members.

Passionate about her roles as a loving wife, mother and grandmother, Mrs. Turner will be remembered for always having her door open to her family and friends.

“She was fun-loving and loved her family,” her son Danny Turner said.

Her main hobby was spending time with family, and she never missed a birthday.

"She wrote the book on unconditional love," Eagle said.

Mrs. Turner is survived by her children, daughters Sonnie Verslues and Linda Eagle and sons Danny Turner and Randy Turner, all of Columbia; nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

Her parents, husband, two sisters, one brother and infant son, Johnny, died earlier.

Visitation will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 23 at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70. Services will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, and burial will follow in Memorial Park Cemetery.

Memorial contributions can be made to American Lung Association, 1118 Hampton Ave., St. Louis, MO 63139.