LINWOOD — Helen Turner’s personal philosophy helped her through some tough times over 111 years and 123 days: “Just put it behind you.”
“When something is bothering you, don’t worry about it; put it behind you and move on,” Turner, who died Thursday and was laid to rest Monday, told The Current in advance of her 110th birthday in 2017. “I know it’s not always easy to do, but that is what helps me, putting things like disappointments behind me. When people come to talk to me and they ask, I tell them, ‘Put it all behind you.’”
During her memorial service Monday, the Rev. Justin Falciani of Christ Episcopal Church in Somers Point talked about visiting Turner once a week.
“I looked forward to bringing communion to Helen because she had a strong faith, but I also enjoyed the lessons she would impart to me each week. Helen taught me that even at 111, she wanted to be modern and a part of what is happening now. She taught me that we remember the past but need to live in the moment,” said Falciani.
LINWOOD — If a popularity contest were held in Linwood, there is a good chance the winner wo…
Turner lived independently at her home in Pleasantville until 2011, when she moved to Brandywine Living at Brandall Estates in Linwood, where she remained very active. She was the first one to her seat for evening trivia and could beat the average person to an answer, especially if it was about geography or American history. She enjoyed sitting and talking with friends during meals or bingo, and Friday afternoon happy hour was always a chance to dance.
Her apartment at Brandall Estates had its share of visitors each day. Some stopped in just for a Helen hug, like concierge Kelly Oliver, while others came just to talk. If you were lucky enough to spend a few minutes with Turner, it was easy to see why so many flocked to her door; one way or another she was still teaching lessons.
Fellow resident Celia Mastel visited Turner recently and said, “Helen is such a good person and such a good friend. She has taught me so much about listening to others.”
Turner’s age and attitude made her somewhat of a celebrity, and it was a role she embraced. She was happy to accept birthday wishes from the likes of radio host Tucker Carlson. April 1, 2018, was declared Helen Turner Day in Atlantic County by County Executive Dennis Levinson. Earlier this year, she graced the pages of several media publications in ads for Brandywine Living.
Growing up, Turner traveled to a one-room schoolhouse in a horse-drawn carriage. She graduated from Sudlersville High School in Maryland with baseball Hall of Famer Jimmy Fox.
Earlier this year, Turner recalled her classmate: “Jimmy, he was such a jock. All he cared about was playing baseball,” Turner said, adding with a smile, “But I guess that’s OK since he was pretty good at it.”
Raised on a farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, her parents wanted her to get an education, so she went off to Towson Teachers School, now Towson University, and later to Columbia University to earn her degree. She went back to teach at that one-room schoolhouse, but it was not for her, and so she went to live with an aunt in Pleasantville. A teaching position opened up in Margate, and she spent the next 40 years teaching there, most of that time in first grade.
LINWOOD – With bagpiper Jeff MacNeil leading the way, Helen Turner was beaming as she entere…
Turner was a woman always slightly ahead of her time. She spoke of some of her life experiences rather offhandedly, but given the span of her life, they were amazing to listen to. Theodore Roosevelt was in the White House when she was born, and she followed politics throughout her life. Turner’s granddaughter Lindsey Mellon shared snippets of Turner during the memorial, like that her first car was a Ford Model T and that she flew in an airplane in 1926 and that while raised Methodist she became an Episcopalian because Methodists didn’t approve of dancing and she loved to dance.
Turner and her husband, Arthur, were married for 47 years when he died in 1986. She leaves behind two children, Arthur Turner of California and Nancy Turner Mellon (Michael) of Florida, three grandchildren, Melissa Mellon Luther (Mainert), Lindsey Anne Mellon and Michael Scott Mellon (Chelsea), and three great-grandchildren, Langdon, Graham and Jamie.