by Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun
Quay County Manager Terry Norman Turner is remembered by family and friends as an outstanding high school and college athlete, as a good friend with a positive outlook, and as a passionate supporter of Tucumcari.
Turner, 60, died Wednesday after suffering a massive heart attack at the Quay County Courthouse, said his brother, Frank Turner.
The courthouse was closed Friday in his memory.
A memorial service was scheduled for 11 a.m. today at the First Baptist Church. Tom Broom of Center Street United Methodist Church was scheduled to officiate.
“He believed with all his heart that the potential was here for Tucumcari to be a great small city,” Frank Turner said.
County Commissioner Bill Curry said, “I’ve known Terry all of his life. It was his coming back to Tucumcari to take the county manager’s position that really inspired me to run for the County Commission. He had a positive attitude and he was always upbeat. He never liked to hear any negatives. He was a great pleasure to be around and he caused us all to feel good. He was a great motivator. Because of him, the county’s in a far better position.”
County Commission Chairman Franklin McCasland said, “Quay County lost a great leader. He was a good friend. And he gave back to his community. He also supported the youth in the community.”
One single mother, who declined to be identified, said that Turner had given her children scholarships to sports camps.
“We are all in shock and we’re all just grieving,” said Mayor Mary Mayfield. “I feel it personally, and as mayor.”
Terry Turner often said that he came back to work for the county because he thought it was important “to give something back to the community.”
“He did give back to the community,” Mayfield said. “He was a credit to the community and I think we were progressing. He had a spirit of cooperation and vision for the future. He also worked well with other agencies here and in the state.”
At Tuesday’s County Commission meeting, Turner talked about ways that the county could get more funds for road improvements and plans for a booth that would be displayed advertising the benefits of Quay County at the upcoming state fair.
Turner graduated from Tucumcari High School in 1964, where he lettered in football, basketball and track for three years and was selected an all-state quarterback. And for a number of years, Turner held the high school and New Mexico state record for the half mile, Frank Turner said.
From high school he was recruited by colleges throughout the nation. “He was offered a full scholarship from William & Mary in Virginia, but turned it down to go to Texas Tech University in Lubbock,” said his brother.
Terry Turner focused on track at Texas Tech because he had his eye on becoming a member of the U.S. Olympic team and there was a coach there who was connected to the Olympics, Frank Turner said.
“He was one of the top half-milers in the nation,” Frank Turner said.
A foot injury kept him from a reasonable chance at the Olympics, said his brother, but it did not keep him from earning a varsity letter in track from (East Texas State University) Texas A&M Commerce, where he earned his degree, Frank Turner said.
In a section of the book, Rattler Football Greats (1920s-1990s), by Billy Jack Turnbeaugh, Terry Turner was selected as the “greatest” football player of 1964. In the book, Turner gave credit for his being named as a leading receiver to fellow player Jim McCasland, “who could throw a football a country mile.” Terry Turner also wrote that it was Coach W.A. Wise and his assistants who “raised the bar by work ethics and tougher schedules. Those values instilled over 30 years ago are deeply instilled in many teammates and myself today.”
In another section of Turnbeaugh’s book, Terry Turner wrote: “my competitive nature and success was developed on the gridiron of THS … I value the lessons of life that the coaches instilled in us everyday. Not only did Coach Wise teach us to push ourselves but to achieve our personal goals with hard work and dedication.”
After college graduation, Turner worked at the Jicarilla Apache Indian Nation for seven years, where he was director of a new community center at Dulce, about 90 miles east of Farmington.
During this time he established youth sports programs, including a Little League baseball team and basketball, boxing and swimming programs.
“He stayed in touch with many of the people in Dulce and is still well remembered. He was a great role model,” said Frank Turner, adding that his brother also played in a couple of adult basketball leagues there and was known as a fierce competitor.
Following Dulce, he worked for five years with Halliburton Services and Plateau refining. He then worked for Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon Endo Surgery plant in Albuquerque where he was a production manager until he retired to Tucumcari in 2004.
Turner was born on March 13, 1946, in Tucumcari to Frank and Katherine Turner.
Survivors include his wife, Merlinda, whom he married in 1979; a daughter Shantel, a junior at Texas Tech University at Lubbock; his brother, Frank Keil (Rosalie) Turner of Angel Fire, and many nieces and nephews. Turner was preceded in death by his parents and a nephew, Terry W. Turner.