Morris N. Turner
Morris N. Turner had a quiet but strong passion for helping people.
“I don’t think he turned down helping anyone for anything,” said his daughter Norris King.
For years, Mr. Turner volunteered for a variety of different ministries in which he helped build and renovate churches and orphanages as well as dig wells in impoverished regions, King said. His devotion to people took him to a variety of places, including Mexico, the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama, the Rio Grande Valley near Texas and many other regions throughout the U.S., she said.
Mr. Turner died Monday, Feb. 7, 2011, at Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital. He was 91.
Mr. Turner was born Sept. 5, 1919, in Audrain County to Claude and Lucille Powell Turner.
He graduated from Centralia High School and later joined the 128th Missouri National Guard, King said.
In 1942, he enlisted in the 17th Airborne Division during WWII, she said. After the war, Mr. Turner worked as a carpenter for two years, usually doing construction on houses.
He later returned to the military and served with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. He retired from duty in 1964.
Mr. Turner married Fern Irene Williams in 1941. They traveled together and did missionary work.
For Mr. Turner, work and travel often mixed, King said.
“Dad never took a vacation where he vacationed,” she said. “He only took a vacation where he worked.”
Mr. Turner also volunteered at the veterans hospital about twice a week, his wife said.
“He worked there until his health started to become an issue,” she said.
While some remember his steadfast dedication in working for and helping others, his grandson, Kyle King, said he remembers his love for and patience with his grandchildren.
“He always took us fishing, and we’d always spend our time with our lines tangled up in the trees," said Kyle King. "But he never lost his temper with us.”
Kyle King said some of his fondest memories of his grandfather were “letting us ride on the tractors with him” and “teaching us to ride horses.”
He said he remembers the experience with the horses well.
“I think that was the only time I saw him lose his temper,” Kyle King said jokingly.
Above all, though, King said he remembers his grandfather as a loving man.
“He loved being around his grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” he said.
Mr. Turner is survived by his wife, Fern Irene Williams; three daughters, Norris King and husband John of Memphis, Tenn., Becky Whithaus and husband Jerry of Austin, Minn., and Dana Cabrejos of Houston; four grandchildren, Lt. Col. Scott King and wife Marga, Kyle King of Memphis, Tenn., Shannon Benson and husband Mark of Oswego, Ill., and Jessica Cabrejos of Houston; one sister, Mary Woodruff of Sturgeon; and three great-grandchildren.
Two brothers, Roy Lee and Joe Turner, died earlier.
Visitation will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W. in Columbia. Services will follow.
Burial will be held at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.
Memorials can be made to the Chaplain’s Service at the Harry S. Truman Veterans Hospital, 800 Hospital Drive, Columbia, MO 65201; the Camp Cedar Crest Fund, care of Memorial Baptist Church, 1634 Paris Road, Columbia, MO 65201; or the charity of your choice.
Tributes can be posted online at memorialfuneralhomeandcemetery.com.