Obituary of Clarence Turner |

Obituary of Clarence Turner

Clarence Turner lived in California for all of his nearly 99 years and in Grass Valley for the last 35. His grandparents were pioneers who moved to California from Ontario, Canada, and Wheeling, West Virginia. He died early Monday, Jan. 25. Clarence was born in Chico to Virginia and Angus Turner. He was the first of their six children, who included Marshall, Ariel, Georgianna, Agnes and Skipper. When Clarence was 8, his father died of tuberculosis. Tall, strong and hard working, Clarence helped his mother take care of the family, and he found jobs delivering milk and groceries before and after school, mowing lawns and caddying on the nearby golf course. In his teens he rode atop wagons piled with redwood logs used to make grape stakes for Sonoma vineyards. He spent two years as a tractor driver in the Civilian Conservation Corps constructing roads in Mendocino County. In 1937 he married Shirley Zarr, who was also from a pioneering California family and a descendant of the original Spanish settlers in the early 1700s. They had three children, Barry, Kevin, and Clarice Turner; six grandchildren, Daniel, Darold, Brady, Meghan, Jordan and Graeme; and four great-grandchildren, Max, Karlee, Paiton and Zoe. In Ukiah, Clarence worked for the State of California as an automobile and truck mechanic and later as a heavy equipment mechanic. In addition, he was a volunteer fireman and sheriff in Ukiah. He could fix anything mechanical. He built two homes from the ground up and grew vegetables and strawberries. Clarence was a lifelong fly fisherman and hunted deer, elk, ducks and pheasants. After retiring, Clarence and Shirley moved to Grass Valley in 1981. They traveled all over California and Nevada with the Tommyknockers RV Club, with Shirley as the navigator and Clarence as the group’s cook. They spent winters with friends by the Salton Sea. Clarence was also active in Grass Valley Elks. By his count he escaped death three times: twice in car accidents and once when a shotgun he had leaned against a fence dropped toward the ground and fired in his direction. He walked away but lost a finger. Clarence was a generous man with a big smile and a deep laugh. He loved car races, cowboy stories, crossword puzzles, barbecued steak and precocious children. He leaves behind a large family of car-loving, abalone-diving, adventure-seeking Californians who will continue to move around like grasshoppers (his words), wake up early and cook for crowds. They will miss him deeply and pass on his stories. The family thanks the staff of Atria Grass Valley and Golden Empire Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for providing Clarence with exceptional care and support. A service will be held for Clarence at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6 at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Grass Valley.

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