John James Turner, Jr. of West Chester, PA and South Bristol, ME died peacefully on March 24, 2019 at Penn Medicine Hospice after a long battle with cancer.
He was a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, uncle, educator and friend.
John was born Oct. 23, 1930 in Philadelphia, PA.
He was the first member of his family to attend college, and he graduated from Muhlenberg College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree Cum Laude in 1953. There, he was secretary, treasurer and delegate for the National Honorary History Society and a member of the varsity wrestling team. He then attended the University of Rhode Island, where he earned a Master of Arts Degree in History. It was there that he met the love of his life, Theodora Bruce Turner. They were married on June 12, 1954.
John served in the U.S. Army from 1955-1957, where he earned the Outstanding Soldier Award. He graduated from Columbia University with a Doctor of Philosophy American History in 1968. While completing his Ph.D., John co-owned the Cameo Waffle Shop in Ocean City, New Jersey, where he spent summers honing his waffle and pancake making skills. In subsequent years he delighted in serving his famous pancakes to his friends and family.
He was a professor of History at West Chester University, where he taught for 37 years. During his professional career, John received a State of Pennsylvania Distinguished Teachers Award, an Association of Pennsylvania State College University Faculty Distinguished Service Award, the Irving Hirsch Cohen Faculty Merit Award and a Fulbright Teacher Exchange to Swansea, Wales. He served as the State Grievance Committee Chair for the State University system, where he earned a reputation for fairness. He was passionate about teaching and supervised the student teacher program at WCU and National History Day for secondary school students. In 1978, he edited a volume of essays, with Roger Lane, entitled “Riot, Rout and Tumult: Readings in American Social and Political Violence.”
John was active in his community as a member of the Chester County Historical Society and as President of the Windon Country Homes Board of Directors. In 2002, he helped lead the effort to name the new public high school in honor of West Chester native and civil rights leader Bayard Rustin.
His hobbies included boating, jogging, square dancing, cheering his Philly sports teams, reading and travel. Some of his happiest moments were sitting on the porch in South Bristol reading The New York Times and talking about politics and electoral college reform; working on the shorefront and attending family gatherings.
John is survived and will be greatly missed by his daughter, Elizabeth Y. Turner; son, David B. Turner & Christine E. (Witzig) Turner; grandchildren Katherine A. Bressler-Turner & David J. Bressler; great-grandson, Brenton A. Bressler-Turner; sister-in-law Anne Turner; nephews, Robert D. Turner & Richard Turner, all of the family members and NAMSOYs in South Bristol, and friends from West Chester.
He was predeceased by his wife, Theodora B. Turner; grandson, William J. Turner; and brother, Robert D. Turner.
A Memorial Service celebrating John’s life will be held on April 6th at 11:00am at Birmingham Friends Meetinghouse, 1245 Birmingham Road, West Chester, PA, followed by a luncheon.
A service in Maine will be held during the summer.
Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Foundation, P.O. Box 5014, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5014.
Arrangements by DellaVecchia, Reilly, Smith & Boyd Funeral Home, Inc. 410 North Church Street, West Chester, PA, 610-696-1181, www.DellaFH.com
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Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
PO Box 5014, Hagerstown MD 21741-5014