James Turner

Deacon James Turner, 93, of Orlando, transitioned from labor to reward on Tuesday, March 12, 2024.

Deacon Turner was born to the late Deacon James and Mary Ella Turner on June 9, 1930 in Bedford, Virginia. Raised in a Christian home, he joined Washington Street Baptist Church as a child. Even as a young man he had a heart after God. As the eldest child of 10 siblings, raised on a farm, his childhood equipped him with a strong sense to distinguish between needs and wants. His upbringing keenly shaped his work ethic and zest for life.

Deacon Turner began his education with Bedford County School System, in Bedford, Virginia. But he would later drop out in the third grade to aid his family and began picking crops. As a teen, he left home and moved to Asbury Park, New Jersey. The story goes during that time they didn’t work with Black Brick Masons, but he would not be denied employment for his family. One day he went down to the construction site and began laying bricks and when the other workers lined up to receive their pay for the day he lined up to receive his check and that began his career as a brick mason in NJ. When he first moved to Florida, he was employed by Mr. Curtis Colten as a brick mason.

He caught a ride with his co-worker, who stopped by his classmate’s house to ask a question and that’s when he laid eyes on the most beautiful lady he had ever seen. He joined in holy matrimony to the love of his life, Mary Robinson in Leesburg, FL, a marriage of 50 years. Deacon Turner began his brick masonry and construction business. For many years to come, the houses he help build and the many sidewalks he paved could be seen throughout Lake County and Orange County. But Deacon Turner’s primary role first and foremost was that of a provider and protector.

He treasured spending time with family and friends, The Turner’s Home was filled with love, laughter, the Gospel and prayer. Visitors as well as family, friends always felt welcomed. He also loved talking with his siblings every week, it made him feel like he wasn’t so far away. Some of his fondest memories were taking I-95N every Summer to attend his family reunion in Bedford, Virginia. Oh what a time they would have and “Uncle Jent” as they often called him would lead everyone in a sing-a-longs as he played his guitar. Each reunion would always end with him closing out in prayer.

Along with his loving wife, Mother Turner, they were dedicated members of Mt. Tabor Missionary Baptist Church in Leesburg, FL for more than 40 years. You didn’t want to miss Sunday Dinners at The Turner’s Home, it was a feast. After church service they always hosted their pastor and his wife and would even provide lodging when needed. Serving faithfully as a deacon, he loved to worship the Lord through song and playing his guitar.

His love for his church was evident, often you could find him cleaning up the church and mowing the lawn on the weekends in preparation for Sunday Service. Deacon Turner served in many different capacities in the church. One thing that never wavered was his love and belief in the faithfulness and goodness of the Lord. He would often sang, “I’ve learned how to lean and depend on Jesus, I’ve found out if I trust Him, He will provide…” Deacon Turner loved his community! His community was a large part of his extended family. If you grew up on Crosby Street, he was a father and grandfather figure to many of the youth and young adults.

The Turners house was always open for a hot meal to anyone just ask the forgotten and the least of these. And if someone ever needed a tool or needed help fixing something “Mr. Turner aka Pop” knew just what to do. Many of you have your own personal stories with Deacon Turner, which you can laugh about today. But community was so much more to him; it was watching out for the fatherless, the homeless and the widow.

It was evident community was important to him and he displayed in in the way he lived and served others. In his golden years, he lived and loved life to the fullest. Deacon Turner was an active member of the Leesburg Male Chorus, MAD DADS, and Bethune-Cookman College Booster Club.

He leaves to cherish his memory, his daughter, Jennifer Rice (New Jersey), bonus daughters, Almeta Wallace (Carl), and Carol Hosendove; 7 Grandchildren; 12 Great Grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews, and many friends.

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