Sue Marie Turner, a Columbus philanthropist and the wife of retired W.C. Bradley Co. Chairman William B. Turner, leaves a lasting legacy of family, giving and teaching.
Just ask two of her 21 grandchildren, who called her “Precious.”
“Her legacy is her family,” said her granddaughter, Katie Krieg. “That is what she would tell you. What I learned from her and what she passed on to us — particularly the girls — was how to be a wife and mother in terms of serving and loving.”
The 65-year marriage to her husband, Bill, is a great part of that legacy, said Lane Riley, another granddaughter.
“To me, her legacy is how to love your life partner, how to love your children, how to love your friends, your neighbor, your church,” Riley said.
Sue Marie Turner died early Thursday in her Midtown home. She was 84.
The funeral service is 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Luke with a visitation beginning at 10 a.m. at the church.
She is survived by her husband, five of their six children, 21 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.
“All of her grandchildren called their grandmother ‘Precious’ and Mr. Turner ‘Pappy,’” said Ron King, Pastoral Institute Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer. “She was indeed a precious gift for her family, friends and community. She was gracious, hospitable and caring, but she also loved to have fun.”
Sue Marie and Bill were married Oct. 8, 1948, just after he started working at the W.C. Bradley Co., founded in 1885 by his grandfather, William Clark Bradley.
Their granddaughters said they had "the most beautiful love story."
“Through their example we learned how to love and how we should be loved," Riley said. "They loved each other.”
In the final months of her life, Sue Marie was in and out of the hospital with heart issues, including a December surgery.
“I would say they were best friends,” Krieg said. “Every day at lunch he came home unless he had a meeting or something. He was there. She was committed to him and that time with him. They were a sweet example of commitment and faithfulness to each other.”
There was also a commitment to the community through the Bradley-Turner Foundation, a charitable nonprofit organization that has given millions of dollars to projects in Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley region.
The Pastoral Institute has established the Sue Marie and Bill Turner Servant Leadership Award to honor couples who have contributed to the community. The Turners received the first award in 2012. Last fall, Jim and Sis Blanchard were honored.
The Turner family helped launch the Pastoral Institute 40 years ago with three other community leaders — Richard Robertson, Herschel Allen and George Zubowicz.
The mission of the organization is to assist those who are going through difficult and traumatic times in their lives. It provides counseling and educational resources, and offers an Employee Assistance Program used by many local businesses.
The family has long supported St. Francis Hospital, and a recent addition was named in Sue Marie’s honor last fall.
“On behalf of St. Francis, I offer our condolences for the loss of Sue Marie Turner,” said St. Francis President and CEO Robert Granger. “She was a great supporter of the community, and we are honored that our new Women’s Hospital is dedicated in her name.”
Granger called her a model citizen.
“Sue Marie will be sorely missed,” he said. “During her lifetime, she made many generous donations to improve our community. She was truly a civic-minded and upstanding model citizen who cared deeply for her family, church and Columbus. Sue Marie’s legacy lives on in the hearts of all who knew her. Our thoughts are with her family during this difficult time.”
Sue Marie was known for picking family and friends up when they were ill or something was wrong.
“She was a true servant at heart,” Krieg said. “She woke up in the morning thinking, ‘Who needs what today?’ She was a shuttle for soup or flowers to us, her family, but also her friends.”
The Turners have been longtime members of St. Luke.
“She liked to walk you around and show you the cushions she needle pointed on the pews,” Krieg said. “Every year on Mother’s Day they give a flower to the mother who had the most children. She was really proud to be able to wear that boutonniere.”