John Frank Turner

October 14, 1915July 17, 2018

John Frank Turner was born in Joshua, Johnson County, Texas on October 14, 1915, to Phillip Conner Turner and his wife Mary Melvina Rice Turner. He was the youngest of 4 children; however, his older brother Lloyd Lee had passed away at age 7, before John was born. His two older sisters Jessie and Claudia were both several years older than Johnny Frank, so he was reared very protectively by his older sisters and parents. John remembers that because of Lloyd’s tragic passing at such an early age, his mother was always very protective of him as he grew up, hoping and praying that he would be safe from harm, as the only son to carry on the Turner name.

John attended elementary school and early years of high school in Joshua. His mother insisted that he go to live with his Aunt Rhoda in Fort Worth, to finish school there, so he would buckle down and concentrate on his studies. He was having far too much fun with those Joshua girls.

As a college student during the Great Depression, John enjoyed playing basketball. He attended school on a very tight budget in both Oklahoma and Texas, majoring in mechanical engineering. During the summers each year, John and his Tejas Club university friends carpooled from Texas up to Montana, where they worked in Glacier National Park as “gearjammers,” driving tour buses throughout the beautiful park.

This adventurous experience was a turning point in John’s young life. After a few years as a bus driver, he was promoted to the position of the dispatcher for the famous red tourist buses in the park. One day, he noticed the names of the new Glacier employees, arriving on the train from Minnesota. The name “Mary Treacy” stood out to him immediately. He vowed he would meet her and date her, and probably even marry her. He looked for several days and finally met up with Mary at a dance. Thus began a great romance in the mountains. At the end of that summer, John proposed marriage to Mary before they parted ways for the upcoming college school year.

But when World War II was declared in December that year, John was encouraged to leave school early, before graduation, to take a position in the Los Angeles area as an aircraft engineer, to support the war effort as a civilian employee. This job was considered as his military duty, but he sometimes got teased and mocked during the war, when the soldiers saw him wearing civilian clothes rather than a military uniform. He was busy designing the warplanes some of them would be using to fight the war.

Despite cultural differences between the Texas Methodist and the Minnesota Catholic, John and Mary determined to wed in a simple ceremony in a Hollywood church on July 18, 1942. They started married life in Santa Monica, where John worked in aircraft engineering. Over the next 11 years, they were blessed with 5 living children, Byron, Ann, Judy, Sara, and Dave. Their first baby, Mary Emily, had lived just 4 days, having been born prematurely. John supported college education for all his children and took great pride in their many accomplishments. Nothing meant more to him than close family relationships, especially with his 12 grandchildren and 14 (soon to be 15) great-grandchildren.

John and Mary moved out from Santa Monica to the San Fernando Valley in the 1950’s and bought a home on Donmetz Street in Granada Hills. John got busy designing his dream home after purchasing a building lot in the orange groves of Lahey Street near Zelzah Ave. Within a few years, the home was completed, and the family excitedly moved into it in February 1960. He and Mary never moved again. John was adamant that he would live there till the end of his life, and he did just that.

John was active in the Granada Hills Methodist Church for many years, until he eventually joined many other church members there in transferring over to Northridge United Methodist Church. He served as an usher here for many years. He became in-volved as a volunteer in the Grief Group around the time that Mary became incapacitated, and especially when she finally passed in June 2004.

As he and Mary reared their five active children, John worked hard in his career for Doug-las Aircraft, and then Weber Aircraft in Burbank. He rose to the position of Vice Presi-dent of Engineering for Weber and was busily engaged in exciting projects for the USA’s Space Program for several years. He met several well-known astronauts and designed the ejection seat that saved one of their lives. Gradually, he transitioned to com-mercial airline projects, which caused him to travel all over the world to meet with a wide variety of business leaders in countries trying to develop their own airline industries.

He retired in the early 1980’s and continued his hobbies of carpentry and golf, especially. He was always busy with one thing or another, improving on the house and yard, and do-ing his share of socializing and entertaining, playing bridge, and traveling widely. He formed friendships with a few people who had stayed in his home as exchange students and reciprocated to their homes in his international travels.

Mary’s health problems became another turning point for John in the mid-1990’s. He in-sisted that she belonged at home, rather than at a care facility. He gave great effort to making life comfortable, familiar, and loving for her, and was so attentive to her. During those 9-½ years, his soul was very tenderized, and he learned patience in a new way. He hired many different caregivers over the years for Mary, always trying to create the right match. He finally succeeded, and after Mary passed away in 2004, John asked her caregiv-er, Alecia Waters, to stay on as a household helper, and eventually a caregiver to him in his sunset years. Alecia has become like one of the family.

A month after Mary died in 2004, his children and grandchildren carried on with their planned family reunion in Glacier Park. John could not stay away. After being home-bound in his care of Mary for nearly a decade, he decided to make his way up to Montana to surprise his family with his presence at the weekend reunion, which then was expanded to include his own personal narrated memory tour of the national parks in Montana and Canada that had come to mean so much to him. Now this beautiful mountain area is very special to all his family, too.

John had become non-ambulatory gradually in recent years, but even in a wheelchair, he would tend to as many household and yard tasks as he could and continued to cook his own meals and bake bread a few times each week, until he could no longer get up to the kitchen counter. There was an era of entertaining some years ago when John and Alecia shared the kitchen to prepare a truly gourmet dinner and host various small groups of family and friends. He prided himself on doing the recipe research, menu planning, grocery shopping, cooking, and serving everyone himself. This was totally impressive to all his lucky guests!

After nearly 103 years of a very full life, there is so much more that could be said about John Frank Turner. Each of us has our own set of memories and experiences with him. He has always loved a good joke, story, or outing. We have enjoyed the personal con-cern and love that each of us has experienced in our relationships with him. His wish for each of us would be to carry on in our own sphere, doing all the good we can, utiliz-ing and conserving our resources wisely, prioritizing our own loved ones, keeping a healthy balance in our lives, and honoring God and country.

A Service in "Celebration of Life" for John Frank Turner Wednesday, July 25, 2018 2:00 pm

The burial will be Thursday, July 26, 2018 at 11 am at San Fernando Mission Cemetery

Donations may be made in John Turner's honor, to Northridge United Methodist Church


  • Visitation Wednesday, July 25, 2018
  • Funeral Service Wednesday, July 25, 2018
  • Burial Thursday, July 26, 2018

John Frank Turner

have a memory or condolence to add?

tom webster

July 25, 2018

I had the pleasure of working with John at Weber Aircraft from 1965 to 1986. I consider John a good friend and enjoyed many golf weekends with he and Mary. J.T., as he was known me, was a truly good man and I cherish the time that I worked and played with him, May he rest in peace.

Vic and Linda Masi

July 23, 2018

In loving memory of John, our "Lahey Street Elder". We will miss your smiling face, friendship, meals together, wine and laughter. What makes us happy is visualizing you now lighting a candle as you sit down to share dinner with your lovely Mary. (A tradition we witnessed at many dinners with you in your home as you lit a candle in Mary's memory. ) We love you John and toast a life well lived.
The Masi family

Rebecca Potter

July 22, 2018

I'm John Turner's granddaughter (Sara's daughter) and I have so many wonderful memories of him and my grandmother, starting when I was just a very little kid and they visited us in Germany where we were living at the time. Such adventures! My grandparents, especially John, traveled the world and had so many tales to tell! Then we moved to Arizona and I can't count the number of times we drove across the hot desert to Gram and Grandad's house growing up! (We loved their pool!) I even had the chance to live with my grandfather for a couple months in the winter of 2016. One of my favorite things during that time was our one on one time, hearing his stories, especially stories of him and my grandmother Mary Turner who he missed very much, as we all do. I have always loved their love story and it's been very inspiring to me my whole life. I loved listening as he talked about her with such reverence and tenderness in his voice. That was true love. :) Most of all I'm just happy that they are together again, reunited in love and joy forever. My sister and I happened to be visiting Joshua, Texas the day I found out about my grandfather's death. Joshua is where he is from, and we were fortunate enough to see the home from 1908 where he grew up. That was very special for us for many reasons. I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful grandfather who lived a full, rich life for almost 103 years! Love you, Grandad!

Bob Heffron

July 21, 2018

John called me "Robert Tail Cat" Every time we got together we talked about the good old days at Weber while we drank Wellers and branch water.
Of all the old gang at Weber, John was my closest friend. John and I traded jokes on the internet up to the last two years of his life. I will miss him very much. He had a great life.


Bob Heffron

Bruce Keeler

July 20, 2018

If you were to look up the word Gentleman, the first definition you would see would be John Turner.

Marisa Thomas

July 20, 2018

I remember my dad, Philip, and Uncle John together laughing about old times, and inside jokes. Every time they got on the phone together they greeted each other with this weird "Eeeeaaaa" sound, then they would laugh. This was one of my favorite memories.