In Memory

R. Ben Turner

Mr. Robert Benjamin Turner, 44, of Shadwell Estates, Keswick, Virginia, died Friday Aug. 19, 1977.      He was born November 12, 1932 in Weldon, N.C., son of Mrs. Eva Andrews Turner Keith of Norfolk, Va., and the late Isaac C. Turner.  In addition to his mother, he is survived by his wife, Margaret Gooch Turner, one son, Gordon Blair Turner and one daughter, Miss Paige Katherine Turner of Shadwell Estates.  Mr. Turner is also survived by two brothers, Cleaton I. Turner of Virginia Beach, Va., Charles Turner, Hanford, Ca., and one sister, Mrs. Nora Edwards of Houston, Texas. 

Mr. Turner has been with the Albemarle County school system since l958, having served as English coordinator in recent years. He received his BA and MS degrees in education from the University of Virginia and served during the Korean conflict in the U.S. Army in 1955 and 1956.Turner has served as organist and choir director for various churches in the area.  He was a member of the National Council of English Teachers and Grace Episcopal Church at Cismont.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Monday from the Grace Episcopal Church in Cismont with interment in the church cemetery with the Rev. Stuart H. Henderson officiating.  The family requests that contributions may be made to the Grace Episcopal Church Memorial Fund.  Hill and Irving Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Information submitted by Sam P. Clarke.

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05/01/11 01:09 AM #1    

Eric Dobbs (1967)

Mr. Turner was the best teacher I ever had. I was in his Senior English class in 1966-67. My family had moved to Charlottesville on the eve of my senior year, which was a wrenching experience, but the intellectual challenge presented by Mr. Turner's class changed my life.

I had been an indifferent student throughout my previous high school career and had largely spent my efforts educating myself, reading whatever came to hand that I thought interesting. I am sure that the high school I had previously attended in Roanoke was adequate, but no teacher there had ever "gotten through" to me. Then I was confronted by Mr. Turner, Mrs. Fantino, and Mr. Snoddy. There was also an algebra teacher, also named Turner, who tried hard, but I was a real brat where math was concerned. I remember her heroic efforts to get past that, but I was too obdurate even for her. As excellent and dedicated as all these teachers were, among them Mr. Turner stands out. 

In our first six weeks, he started the survey of English literature with the Romantic poets together with their predecessors, the Classical poets (Dryden, Pope, etc.). I remember vividly that he brought in the music and art teachers to demonstrate to us the transition that was occurring during the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries between the Classical and Romantic periods and their very different views of the world. No one had ever suggested to me that the arts were related in this way. I remember hearing for the first time the two emphatic chords that begin Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, the Eroica (Heroic).

Mr. Turner also, during those same first six weeks, introduced us to the basics of Aristotelian logic. It was as if someone had given me a key to a room in my brain that was full of useful tools, most of which had hitherto been left unused. Every Friday we had a vocabulary test of 25 words, all of which turned up on the SAT that year. During the course of that year we also read 12 novels, including The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy, Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë (the book was dubbed Smothering Depths by George Schoffner, also, alas now parted from us), The Caine Mutiny, by Herman Wouk, The Brothers Karamazov, by Dostoevski, 1984, by George Orwell, Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, The Octopus and McTeague, by Frank Norris, Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert, and others.  

I could continue with the catalog of challenges Mr. Turner presented to us, but what was truly important was that his approach to teaching us was based on the assumption that all of his students were smart. That, together with his obvious zest for his profession, brought forth in me and in others the desire to live up to the assumption that we were intelligent and capable. I will always be grateful for that, and I am also grateful for this opportunity to honor his memory.

12/19/12 01:35 AM #2    

Dennis Lee Null (1963)

i echo erics comments.i moved to albemarle my senior year.he opened my eyes to literature.iwas told i would not be able to pass college english.well i majored in english,3of mychildren majored in english,ihave41 years in the practice of law and i owe it all to ben turner,when ben died i came home to help margaret with funeral arrangements.she sent me a thank    you card calling me a son of ben,agreat honor.ben and margaret visited my family and my oldest son had ben as a godfather  ..eric said it best ,his students loved him.

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