"Wild"Bill Turney was one of a kind. Sadly, he left us all on January 16th at the age of 92. Until his death from a malignant brain tumour, his smile and his personality were intact. It was always "thank you" and "I don’t deserve this wonderful treatment", no matter how tired he was, or how much his memory failed him. In addition to all the wonderful things he did, that will be his legacy: his kindness and appreciation for everything and everyone.
Bill is survived by his wife of 62 years, Carolyn; daughters Virginia, Hazel and Stephanie, and son Gordon; three grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his parents, Arthur and Elizabeth Turney, and two grandchildren, Christopher and Michael.
Born on September 14, 1929, he could have developed in a very different way. He was born with Albinism and limited vision as a result of his mother’s bout with rubella during pregnancy. But he never once felt sorry for himself, or failed to consider others. After spending some of his early years at the Halifax School for the Blind, he became a student at Rothesay Collegiate School, under headmaster Humphrey Bonnycastle and some wonderful teachers, including Chaplain Francis Keeble, a man who had a lasting impact on Bill and the way he embraced life
Following graduation from RCS in 1947, he attended the music program at Mount Allison University in Sackville for two years. The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto was the next step in Bill’s formation, and he graduated from there with his LRCT and his ARCT in 1955. An opportunity then arose to teach in Woodstock, New Brunswick, and he launched a music program in the schools of Woodstock which not only became the envy of many communities, but which was used as a pattern for the program of music study for schools throughout the province. His impact on students is legendary; students from all over the world have kept in touch over the years, and they have continued to offer support throughout his illness and beyond.
After thirteen years in Woodstock, Bill was invited to join the faculty of Ricker College, a small private school in Houlton, Maine, as Associate Professor of Music. This experience was one of Bill’s happiest, and it had a huge impact on the entire family. His tenure there lasted from 1968-1978, during which time he witnessed such things as student demonstrations against the war in Vietnam, worked with a most highly qualified faculty, and met students from all over the world who came to Ricker to experience such unique programs as Moslem World Studies and courses that offered a unique world view.
Never afraid of a challenge, Bill then switched gears and moved with the family to Fredericton, where he became District Administrator for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, completing his affiliation with the CNIB in Winnipeg in 1988. Following his return from Manitoba, he was offered a contract with the NB Department of Supply and Services, where he was the author of the Government’s position paper on acid-free and recycled paper. He completed his career in government with Communications New Brunswick, a natural fit for his special skills.
Following retirement from CNB, he took a job as Greeter at Wal-mart, one of the jobs he enjoyed most. He stayed with the company for three years.
During all this time in various positions, Bill also directed the choirs at both St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Woodstock and the United Baptist Church. School bands and choirs were always a priority; he wanted as many students as possible to have the opportunity to express themselves through music. While there, he was also active in the Carleton County Historical Society; and he continued a lifelong interest and affiliation with the Boy Scouts.
He was also a journalist and critic for The Daily Gleaner, The Telegraph-Journal, WTMS Radio in Fort Fairfield, ME, and WAGM Radio in Presque Isle, and his interest in the news of the day and happenings in his community never waned. His love of engineering also kept him interested in all the ongoing construction sites, and he visited many of them every week.
Even though retired, Bill continued to offer his services as director of a choir at The Stepping Stone Centre, and, latterly, as conductor of the Golden Club Singers, a job he relished. And he never lost his love for the Christ Church Cathedral choir, where he sang from early in his childhood until his illness prevented his participation. He also maintained membership in the Barkers Point Northside Lions Club, a relationship which began when the club supported his efforts at CNIB, and endured throughout his life.
Bill’s family is grateful for the amazing outpouring of love and support from former students and colleagues, as well as from those whose lives he touched throughout all his careers. Deepest gratitude is also due all the doctors, nurses and staff of Hospice House, where Bill spent his final days. Dr. Elna Hauman, Dr. George Kolyvas, and Dr. Farah Naz, all of whom treated Bill during his illness, were instrumental in getting him the best care possible; and nurses and practitioners from the Extramural Program offered tremendous support while Bill was still at home.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Donations in Bill’s memory can be made to Hospice House, Fredericton, to Rothesay Netherwood School, or to a charity of the donor’s choice.