More Than a Number

Family sitting on stairs smiling

16,318. That is the number of COVID-19 confirmed (13,299) and probable 3,019) deaths in the state of Missouri as of early January 2022. My brother, John Edward Turner, is included in that number. But he was so much more than that number.

John was a son, born to Ted and Evelyn Turner. John’s maternal grandparents were Harry and Margaruite Beauman; his paternal grandparents were Gene and Thelma Maude Turner. He was a brother to Teri Utter and Brian Turner. John was a nephew to Gail, Joe, Jack, Fran, H, Charlene, Mort, Linda, Terry, Louise, Charley, Nancy, Deloris, Donny, David and Pam. John’s cousins included Glenda, Mark, Mike, Steve, Marty, Jeff, Cindy, Jim, Karen, Laura, Sarah, Amy, Carolyn, Debbie, Larry, Steven, Dawn, Jennifer, Angie, and Sean. He was husband to Trena, and father to Kyla, Katie, Kourtney and Colton. Uncle John or Johnny Boy, known by Savanna, Alex and Max. Pa was what John was called by Maelyn, Liam, Silas, Audrey, Emmett and Charlie.

He was a generous neighbor; he could often be found helping one of the other farmers who lived close when they needed a helping hand. John was one of the first to volunteer to help with the Joplin tornado victims, using his chainsaw and supplying the gas needed to power many other worker’s saws as well. John worked tirelessly cutting hay for others, sometimes letting his own hay go to finish the task.

John loved to fish and hunt. He enjoyed the solitude of hunting deer and turkey. John was an excellent marksman; he learned from his dad. He fished regularly with Steven; they caught a lot of white bass together.

John also loved baseball. He was a great lefty pitcher in high school at Cole High School at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. John truly enjoyed watching the St. Louis Cardinals games.

John learned the art of weaponry repair at gunsmith school in Colorado. He could make a rifle or pistol look new again and function in the manner in which it should. He worked with the Mountain Grove community to ensure their guns were safe and effective.

John was also a wood artist. He made beautiful pieces of furniture and even stocks for some of the weapons he repaired. He was very particular and finicky with his finished product; he would often spend more time than what his dad thought was necessary to complete projects.

John went to the hospital with the Delta variant of COVID-19 on June 29, 2021 with no other underlying medical conditions. On July 19, 2021, he slipped away peacefully to be with his Lord and Savior. He was taken too soon from us and had more to give for family and friends.

I talked to my brother and begged him to take the vaccine, but he told me that he heard people were getting sick from the shot. He told my mother that whether he got the shot was really none of my business, but as the Vaccines for Children Coordinator, it has been my business for far too long now.

We will remember John in each of our own ways with stories that go along with our special memories. Please think of John often and fondly. Please consider getting a COVID-19 vaccine so that there are no more tributes like this to write about a loved brother. But please remember most of all that he will always be more than a number.

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