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Epilogue | Hyman "Hy" Turner

Journalism, military held special places for Hyman Turner

CLEARWATER — Hyman Turner got his first job in the media industry when he was just 11. He sold newspapers on the streets of New York, where he would spend much of his lengthy journalism career.

By the time he retired more than 50 years later, Mr. Turner had worked for dozens of newspapers around the country and made a name for himself as a radio copy writer.

Journalism was his first passion (the military was a close second), and it rubbed off on his family.

"My earliest memories were going to newspapers and walking on catwalks," said Diane Schrier, Mr. Turner's daughter.

My dad "was a journalist's journalist," she added.

Mr. Turner, known as "Hy" to his friends and family, died Saturday in Clearwater. He was 91.

His work in New York included stints at the Daily News, the New York Post, the Journal-American and the Herald Tribune. In 1998, he finally finished his book, When Giants Ruled, a 100-year narrative history about New York journalism.

He also worked for newspapers in New Jersey, Illinois, Texas and Mississippi.

The majority of Mr. Turner's career was spent as a copy editor, but he also was a reporter. He sometimes worked two full-time jobs at once.

His wife, Helen Turner, gave him a rule when they married 30 years ago: One job at a time.

"He loved to talk to people, find out what their stories were and find out what was really happening in their lives," she said.

Following his retirement from radio station WINS, the Turners left the Big Apple in 1982 and made Florida their home. Retirement gave Mr. Turner a chance to finish his book, which he started shortly after fighting in World War II.

Five years before Mr. Turner finished his run in the news industry, he retired from the Army Reserve with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He worked with military intelligence during the war and learned many languages while doing interrogations.

"He could say 'thank you' in 80 languages," his wife said.

Mr. Turner's love for journalism and the military were combined in the 1990s when he volunteered at the Thunderbolt, MacDill Air Force Base's newspaper. After more than a decade of helping produce the paper, he began delivering copies to employees at the hospital on base.

"He didn't just drop the paper off," Mrs. Turner said. "He talked to everybody, and it was a very nice kind of relationship."

Mr. Turner spent most of the past nine months in the hospital and rehabilitation. He died from a combination of medical problems, including an infection from a tracheotomy and a staph infection, said Schrier, his daughter.

Even while he was hospitalized, Mrs. Turner brought her husband a copy of the St. Petersburg Times every morning. He read it until almost his final day.

"When he stopped reading it the last few days, it meant that things were very bad," his wife said.

Kevin Smetana can be reached at or (813) 661-2439.


Hyman "Hy" Turner

Born: July 18, 1917.

Died: March 7, 2009.

Survivors: wife Helen; daughters Diane and Susan; sons Paul and Mark; stepdaughter Susan; five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Journalism, military held special places for Hyman Turner 03/12/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 12, 2009 9:32pm]
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