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John James Turner Jr.

1938 - 2018 Obituary Condolences Gallery

1938 – 2018
They called him Bulldog.
John James Turner, Jr., who put up a tenacious fight for life against the ravages of disease, passed away peacefully at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Moreno Valley, California. He was 79. His daughter, Michelle Clark, was by his side. He died January 21, 2018, having entered the hospital the day after Christmas for the last time.
John was born in Oneida, New York, on November 21, 1938, and moved with his parents and younger sisters to California in 1952. At Santa Ana High School he participated in football, baseball, and Little Theatre Guild, graduating in the class of 1956. Many of the friends he made while a Santa Ana "Saint" remained life-long friends.
At nineteen, John went to work for State Farm Insurance on 17th Street in Santa Ana, in an industry that would remain his career for life. That same year, 1958, he married his high school sweetheart, Claudia Schiller, at the First Christian Church.
By 1963, John opened an agency in Westminster, and at that time was the youngest State Farm agent in the area.
Hired by Fireman's Fund Insurance in 1965, he was asked to open a Riverside office. As company growth was followed by consolidation, John transferred where needed. From Riverside he worked variously for offices in Oklahoma City, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati. He was with Fireman's Fund for 25 years. Finishing a long career, he worked for the State of Ohio's Bureau of Worker's Compensation in Columbus, retiring in 1995.
Moving to Atlanta, John enjoyed steaks on his Weber grill, a dry martini, and was a fan of the Georgia Bulldogs. In 2008, following a health scare, his family convinced him to move back to California. In Riverside, he proudly purchased a home where he could enjoy sitting on the patio drinking a beer, having a smoke and watching the birds and squirrels. John loved to cook, his specialty being spaghetti sauce. He passed time playing poker on his computer and sitting in his favorite blue recliner to watch television, but never before 5pm because "I don't watch daytime TV".
Arthur Fontaine, the husband of John's first wife Claudia, came to be a close friend of John's after he returned to Riverside. Art provided transportation, home repairs, and friendly conversation at family gatherings.
In addition to his daughter Michelle, John is survived by his son-in-law, Jeff Clark and grandchildren Zachary and Megan Clark, all of Riverside. He is also survived by his son Bryan of Palm Desert, stepson Josh Pierce of Greely, Colorado, former wives Claudia Turner, Carole Bowman, and Deborah McGarvey Pierce, and sister Barbara Toothman. John was preceded in death by his parents, John James and Marion Hess Turner, and sister Joann Ulibarri, all from lung cancer.
Back in junior high school in the 1950s, a friend once noted John's wide face and broad smile and, as teenagers will do, kiddingly called him Bulldog; both the nickname, and the great smile, stayed with him for the rest of his life.
Published in Press-Enterprise on Feb. 11, 2018
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