James Willaford Norman Turner, passed away on Saturday, July 1, 2023 at his residence while surrounded by his loving family.
James, the eldest of seven children was born on April 16, 1947, to Henry and Flossie Turner in Cottondale, FL. He formally professed his Christian faith when he was young and grew up in a Baptist Church. James married his soulmate, Gloria, and shared a wonderful 25 years together. James had a strong will and displayed integrity; he also had a big heart and a great sense of humor. He enjoyed making his loved ones laugh by making a daffy duck impersonation and telling jokes. He was kind, loyal, and generous. He was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather who cherished his family. In the words of James, “Some of my greatest accomplishments are becoming a parent to my children and marrying the love of my life”. He was skillful and filled to the brim with knowledge gained through all of his life experiences.
He was, in a word, determined, and all of his endeavors were motivated by his intellectual curiosity and sharp mind. At age 17, he joined the United States Navy. James served as a Gunners Mate on the USS Preston DD795 destroyer from 1964 to 1968 during the Vietnam War. He had a particular passion for mathematics, which sparked his interest in floor covering installation and led him to start the successful company Turner’s Floorcovering. For more than four decades, his commitment to detail and precision allowed him to remodel countless properties in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. In his later years, his dedication to learning prompted him to take on new challenges. In the year 2000, he completed the Trompeter school’s Coax Connector Installer training program at 53, and at the age of 54, he became a trained correctional officer for the State of Florida. He was a Mason and a member of the Shriners fraternity and supported the Shriners hospital for children. He supported fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth.
He liked a variety of activities over the years, including fishing, camping, woodworking, and building things. He was a self-taught craftsman. To see his grandchildren’s faces light up, he took great pleasure in making Christmas cutouts, painting and decorating his home for the holidays. In 2000, he received the prize for finest decorated home in Sunnyhills, FL during the Christmas season. He loved southern cuisine, bottling fruits and preserves, and making Christmas treats for his family and friends. He enjoyed playing canasta, dominoes, and any casino in Biloxi. He enjoyed touring the world with his wife, visiting destinations like Alaska, Las Vegas, and going on cruises. He believed in living life to the fullest and creating memorable experiences with those he loved.
Above all else, he was kind, loyal, and a protector. He valued honesty, integrity and demonstrating respect for others and yourself. He fully enjoyed what he did and those he met in his days. He made the time to show up for everyone who reached out, providing caring, trustworthy, and sound counsel always. He simply wanted to brighten lives in his days and that he surely did. Peace and caring permeated him, and kindness felt like it was his middle name.
Anyone who knew James knew that he was the most loving husband, father, grandfather, sibling, and son a family could ask for. He shared this same love with his community of friends, professionals, and acquaintances. To say he will be missed is truly an understatement.
James was preceded in death by his parents, Henry D. Turner and Flossie Meadows Turner; two brothers, Jimmy Turner and Henry D. Turner, Jr.; as well as his grand daughter, Lyla Elaine Batista.
He leaves behind his loving wife, Gloria Goff Turner; four daughters, Jenifer Turner and Hannah Batista both of Marianna, Wendy Lamb of Cottondale, and Kim Cianelli and husband, Frank of Marianna; son, James Randall Turner also of Marianna; step children, Melissa Neff and husband, David of Suwanee, GA and Nick Gulu, III of Pooler, GA; sisters, Mary Kimbro and husband, Kevin of Cottondale, Margaret Mcginty of Alford, Kathy Mowers and Gracie Miles both of Cottondale; grandchildren, Ava Butler and Evan Stokes, Lucas and Liliana Batista, Kayley and Emilee Turner, Tannor and McKenize Whitehead, Joey and Kate Myhill, Dustin Whitehead, Phillip, Sam and Taylor Neff, Christopher, Ethan, Maverick and Lillie Gulu; two great grandchildren, Harvey and Tycen Whitehead; along with a host of nieces, nephews and cousins.
Funeral services will be 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 5, 2023 at Marianna Chapel Funeral Home with Dr. Reverend LaVon Pettis officiating. Interment will follow in Pilgrims Rest Cemetery with Military Honors provided by the United States Navy and Marianna Chapel Funeral Home directing.
The family will receive friends from 1 p.m. until the time of service at Marianna Chapel Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contribution may be made to the Shaddai Shrine Temple at P.O. Box 16115 Panama City, FL, 32405. They can be reached by phone at (850) 769-8303.
Condolences may be made online at www.mariannachapelfh.com