Mr. Richard Conway Turner Sr., of Parksley, passed away on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. A true Eastern Shore gentleman, his legacy will far surpass his 93 earthly years.
Born on March 10, 1930, Richard started his life on Wessells Farm in Parksley. His parents, Conway LeCato Turner and Miriam Wessells Turner, raised a son that would grow up to become the man that anyone in the community could count on to chip in and help out.
Richard graduated from Parksley High School and went on to join the U.S. Army, where he would serve for four years. That decision led him to meet the love of his life, Bonnie Huffman Turner (née Wessells). Richard was firefighting out in California and inhaled poison ivy fumes. Bonnie nursed him back to health and the two fell in love.
In 1950 the two became one and she took his last name. They had a good life. The couple did just about everything together, from country line dancing to traveling in their RV to see their son Robert’s family in Florida (where he was known to bring his own “special” folding chair for after-dinner naps). Bonnie agreed with everything Richard said. And, in turn, Richard pretended not to notice that she got everything she wanted from QVC, including every single grandkid’s Christmas present. It was that give and take that kept them hand-in-hand until she passed away in 2016.
While the rest of us slept, Richard Turner was working. After 37 years of civil service, he retired from NOAA as an electronics engineer and went right back to work for a few more decades, as he trimmed and manicured the local graveyards, including Parksley, Liberty, Groton’s, Wessells, and Bloxom cemeteries. He took pride in keeping the plots of many thousands of Eastern Shore men and women clean and neat, and most importantly, respected. He drove a bus for Accomack County Public Schools for 29 years. And a good majority of his time was spent volunteering in the community.
Richard dedicated 71 years to the Parksley Volunteer Fire Company. He was president in 1966, 1967, and 1989. He was also president of the Accomack-Northampton Fire Association and president and secretary of the Del-Mar-Va Volunteer Firemen’s Association. He was a member of Grace United Methodist Church; VFW Post 2269, Tasley; Exmore Moose Lodge #683; Onancock Elks Lodge B.P.O.E. No. 1766; Pungoteague Ruritan Club; Shriners International; and Central Masonic Lodge #300, A.F. & A.M.; and served on the board of Metompkin District Cemeteries. He was one of the first EMTs on the Shore and went on to share that knowledge with students he taught in his first aid classes.
Richard was a simple man who enjoyed simple pleasures. If it came from the ocean or sea, he would find a way to eat it. After a full tummy from a plate of crab legs shared with his grandson, he would settle in to watch “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy.” Dressed in his “uniform” of a cotton shirt and gold chain, he and Bonnie would set off to visit produce markets and would bring bushels of grapefruit and oranges up from Florida. And he was a great baker. His pies were legendary, especially the mincemeat pies.
He went by many names — Richard, Dad, Granddaddy, G-Pop — but the one that fit the man the most was Friend. He was a friend to the community, whether it was through service in the fire department or feeding those less fortunate at the local food bank, he was a friend. He was a friend to his wife, driving side-by-side and mile after mile in their RV, including trips to Crystal Springs and Bonita Springs, and rooting every Sunday afternoon for Richard Petty while she stood firm behind Bobby Allison, he was her friend. Friendship can be hard with three sons, but he accepted that challenge and found a way to bond with each son, whether it was teaching them about the fire department or cutting grass together as the sun went down (and the rest of the Shore was retiring for the night) or simply eating an oyster fritter at the Chincoteague Carnival, he found friendship with his boys. The Eastern Shore will miss this Friend for a long time to come.
Richard is survived by his sons, Michael R. Turner (Lucy), of Guilford, Robert C. Turner (Shirley), of Millersville, Tenn., and Richard “Dickie” Conway Turner Jr., of Parksley; sister, Connie Blades of Vienna, Md.; grandchildren, Michael Turner Jr., Shawn C. Turner, Kelley L. Turner, Robert Turner (Valerie), Richie Turner (Cheryl), Michele Pruitt (Joe), Bobbijo Evans (Charles), and J.P. Turner; great-grandchildren, Chris Turner, Ethan Turner, Elizabeth I. Turner, David M. Turner, Amanda Sample (Donte), Conway Turner, Drake Turner, Charity G. Gayton, Landon Michael J. Gayton, Dominik A. Depetro, Ryan Turner, Adriana Bridges, Christian Dow, Eric Turner, and Emily Turner; great-great-grandchildren, Allison Turner and Abigail, Briana, Jazmin, and Kaitlyn Zavala; several nieces and nephews; and friends up and down the Shore.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Conway LeCato Turner and Miriam Wessells Turner; wife, Bonnie H. Turner; great-grandsons, Andrew Turner and Shawny Turner; great-granddaughter, Emma Turner; daughter-in-law, Lois Ann Turner; and great-granddaughter-in-law, Nikki Turner.
Funeral services were conducted from the chapel of the Williams-Parksley Funeral Home on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, at 2 p.m., with Mr. George Fulk officiating. Interment followed in the Parksley Cemetery.
Contributions in Richard’s memory may be made to the Parksley Volunteer Fire Company, P.O. Box 14, Parksley, VA 23421 or to the Foodbank of the Eastern Shore, P.O. Box 518, Onley, VA 23418.
Memory tributes may be shared with the family at
Arrangements were by the Williams-Parksley Funeral Home.