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Epilogue| Dr. Jerald Turner

Eye doctor's full life can be told in a few words

CLEARWATER — Jerald Turner:

Grew up on an Indiana farm and milked cows before and after school.

Loved fresh sweet corn, tomatoes and melons.

Squirted his brother with fresh cow's milk and dropped pigeon eggs on his head.

Fell off his father's tractor as a toddler and narrowly missed getting hurt.

Accidentally walked out the door once for church dressed in a shirt and sport coat — and no pants.

Met his future wife, Mary Turner, on a blind date neither wanted to go on.

She taught school while he trained to become an ophthalmologist.

Served in the Air Force as a flight surgeon in Vietnam. Served again later in Desert Storm.

First met his second son, Michael, upon returning from Vietnam. Michael, then 1, shied away, but within a day rolled on the ground with his dad.

Transformed his son Jeff's terror for storms into a game — they'd yelp, "Come on, thunder" and see who could say it closest to the boom.

Taught his son John to adjust his eyes to dark rooms so he wouldn't be afraid.

Dubbed a birthday cake his wife made, which fell to pieces, a "crumble cake." It became a family request.

Sang to the children at bedtime, always ending with Goodnight, Irene.

Volunteered as a reserve deputy with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, collecting ballots and going on helicopter patrols and driving-under-the influence checks.

Played piano and sang in a barbershop quartet and a church choir. Made soap, wood and metal crafts.

Opened his Clearwater eye practice in 1971 and didn't stop working until last year. Wasn't chatty with patients, but remembered details about their lives. Always tried to save them money.

Often gave free eye care to the needy. Bid big at charity silent auctions, then gave the purchases away.

Made house calls on his motorcycle, but rode his bicycle to work every day. Wore wooden clogs at the office.

Viewed himself as a country boy who wasn't too smart. Friends said he was brilliant.

Told his office administrator, Alwyn Holloway, if she used many words to answer a question, she probably didn't know the answer.

Discovered pieces of chocolate on his desk when his staff thought he needed to lighten up.

Cracked jokes and maintained levity as his colon cancer progressed — he died Saturday at age 68.

Hated fluff.

Would have suggested trimming all unnecessary language from a newspaper article about his life.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at shayes@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8857.

>>Biography

Dr. Jerald Turner

Born: Sept. 17, 1939.

Died: March 15, 2008.

Survivors: wife, Mary; mother, Ferne; sons, Jeffrey, Michael and John; brother, Burl; 10 grandchildren.

Eye doctor's full life can be told in a few words 03/19/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 21, 2008 10:57am]
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