Philip B. Turner PhD
30 January 1922 - 25 February 2018
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Caribou-Philip B. Turner, PhD was born to David and Beulah (Johnson) Turner on January 30, 1922 in Mapleton. He died February 25, 2018 at a local health care facility. He was predeceased by his dear wife and partner, Jean Morse in 2008, their sons, Peter in 1946, Johnathan Scott in 1960, and Alex in 1980 and his brothers, Sidney, Vinal, Richard & Osmand He is survived by his very special little sister, Hope (Turner) Noe of Concord, MA and sisters-in-law Althea (Kirk) Turner, Dorothy (Rice) Turner and Norma (Levesque) Turner along with many nieces and nephews. Phil prepared an outline of his obituary and for those who knew him you will hear his voice and his spritely spirit in the words that follow:
I loved living in Mapleton on the farm. Our life there was good and productive. I graduated from Mapleton High in 1939 (tied for the bottom of the class) and followed with an additional year at Presque Isle High. I attended the University of Maine until the 2nd semester of my third year when I enlisted in the Army Air Corps. There I failed to be both pilot or navigator and ended up as a waist gunner in a B-17 in the Eighth Air Corps in England. However, I won the best prize of the service, marrying Jean in Boston. After the war I returned to the UMaine for more schooling, being most thankful for the G.I. bill. With Jean's help I finally made the right Dean's list and was acceptable for more college work, including two years at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for a Master's. During this time, summers were spent farming with the family back home in Mapleton. After the master's I was accepted in and completed a Ph.D. program at Michigan State University where I was invited to join Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. None of this would have happened without Jean's help.
While in Michigan I worked at a fertilizer factory in Saginaw, followed by a period as a plant manager in Kalamazoo for the Michigan Farm Bureau. Then I spent five years in a very steep learning curve working for E.I. DuPont covering the Northeast USA and Canada as Dupont's expert in the use of Urea, a long lasting nitrogen for lawn fertilizer. In 1960 I received a phone call from George Knox of the Aroostook Federation of Farmers who said, "Come home!" Jean and I gladly returned and made Caribou our home. She worked as a nurse and I spent five years with the Federation, a short time with Potato Service, and then the National Farmers Organization, where I arranged the selling of Maine potatoes to Sweden and seed potatoes to Egypt. Somewhere during those years I got a call from Freddy Valsing to help with the sugar beets fiasco. The best work I did was when I found my calling as a teacher while working for several colleges who offered classes at Loring Air Base in Limestone. I developed a master's program for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where I worked with some very smart students. While teaching I began writing historical novels. During that time and into my retirement I wrote novels.
When Jean and I first moved to Caribou we quickly joined the Bessie Gray Memorial Methodist Church, doing what we could to support and continue Bessie's good work. While settling into my new job and during my first week at work back in The County, Mr. P.J. Sullivan invited me to attend the Wednesday afternoon meeting of the Caribou Rotary, which resulted in a lasting valuable membership. Besides my life-long affiliation with the church and Rotary International, I was active in various county and city activities. I especially enjoyed serving as co-chairman of the Aroostook County 150th celebration, participating as a member of the Caribou SCORE Chapter, and supporting the County Republicans.
In 1989, after Jean retired from nursing, we bought a motor home and traveled throughout the USA and Canada. These excursions included several trips to Alaska. I was able to return to and enjoy an extended tour of England, Scotland, and Wales.
These later years without Jean have been full. With the help and support of many people I continued to enjoy the motor home for as long as I could and continued writing. When Caribou was celebrating its 150th I asked my dear friend, the Rev. Lynne Jocelyn, "If I write a pageant about the history of Caribou, will you do it?" She said yes and "H I to Caribou" was presented along with some birthday cake for the attendees. When the Acadian Congress met in the St. John Valley in 2014, I prepared a booklet "Champlain in Maine" and some short plays that were well received.
I will end by saying, "Thank you" to the many people (both living and dead) who over the years tolerated my inquisitive and determined nature, supported my many endeavors, and overlooked my troublesome faults. To my faithful neighbors and friends, Debbie and Don Sirois, you made my last years much easier to stay in my home. To my dear little friend, Amos Stedt, your letters and cards and especially your visits and smiles always made me smile. I also enjoyed going out to dinner with my friend Janice Santos. A funeral will be in May at Gray Memorial Methodist Church with date and time to be announced later.