J.T. Turner, 89, of Moriarty, passed away May 15, with his grandchildren at his side. He was born in Wyatt Switch, Texas, on Aug. 11, 1926, to Mary Lee and Homer Turner. He grew up in Midlothian, Texas, and had a strong work ethic from a young age. He often told stories of picking cotton on farms or setting up pins at the local bowling alley after school. He graduated from Midlothian High School in 1944 and joined the Merchant Marines in December of that year. After graduating from the U.S Maritime Service Training program in St. Petersburg, Fla., in April 1945, he became a Mariner and traveled the globe, completing several foreign voyages. He served through the conclusion of World War II, and into 1946. During the Korean War he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served as a Drill Instructor. J.T. married Idra “Reece” Abshire on Sept. 1, 1951 in Fort Worth, Texas. When J.T. and Reece moved to New Mexico in 1953 they had $500 and only the belongings that fit in the car. He was a man of vision and grew to own five curio stores in New Mexico along Route 66 by 1964. His stores touted attractions such as live Native American dancers and a zoo with animals ranging from bears to snakes and even a gorilla. He was happy to provide work to anyone in need and would feed the hungry who stopped in, regardless of their ability to pay. Before retirement, J.T. and Reece were the first and only private owners of the New Mexico Museum of National History gift shop, which his grandchildren remember benefitted them dinosaur T-shirts and erasers. Though a great businessman, J.T. didn’t put work before family. His son, and later grandchildren and great-grandchildren, were always his greatest joy. After his 42-year marriage to Reece ended with her passing in 1993, J.T. remarried to long-time friend and neighbor Frances Durham Turner on December 22, 1995. J.T. was a pillar of the community. He supported 4-H and FFA. He was a member of the Moriarty Rotary Club for 40 years, with some as Vice President; a member of the American Legion Post 74; Chairman of the New Mexico State Fair for four years; served for 24 years on the First National Bank of Belen / Norwest Board of Directors; and was a member of the Central New Mexico Electric Co-op Board of Directors for 30 years including many as President. He was proud and honored to have the Moriarty facility bear his name. He was preceded in death by his wife Idra “Reece” Turner; wife Frances Durham Turner; son Michael Turner; father James Homer Turner; mother Mary Lee Key; siblings Anna Lee Thomas, Fred Turner Sr., Lucille Brumbeloe, and Morris “Pete” Turner. He is survived by his daughter-in-law Sue Berg of Farmington; grandson Jeremiah Turner and wife Jennifer of Edgewood; granddaughter Cara Curtiss and husband Chad of Albuquerque; granddaughter Jenna Turner of Moriarty; grandson Jordan Turner of Moriarty; and great-grandsons Trey Turner, Lucas Turner and Lawson Turner. The Turner family would like to thank Beehive Homes of Edgewood and Hospice of New Mexico for all of their loving care. Visitation will be held at Harris-Hanlon Mortuary in Moriarty on May 19 from 4 to 6 p.m. A memorial service will be held at Valley View Christian Church in Edgewood, May 20 at 11 a.m. Interment will be held at Cedar Grove Cemetery in Mancos, Colo., on May 21 at 9 a.m. Arrangements were entrusted to Harris-Hanlon Mortuary.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.