A Celebration of the Life of Mary Nell Turner will be held on Saturday, April 30, at 2 p.m. at Hempstead Hall on the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana campus. The event will be in the Blevins and Washington suites from 2 to 4 p.m.
Mary Nell Turner was born in Hope on August 5, 1919, the year that women were granted the right to vote. She graduated from Hope High School and earned a B.S. in business and English at Henderson State Teacher’s College. When offered the opportunity to teach journalism at Hope High School, she attended the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University to study journalism. She was a creative and energetic teacher who inspired her students to create awardwinning newspapers and yearbooks, year after year.
Mary Nell was active in the Hempstead County Historical Society and edited that organization’s journal. Her interest in genealogy began with her membership in D.A.R. and led her to study family history, a skill that she shared with many individuals. Because of her insatiable interest in local history, she became Hope’s historian by default.
Mrs. Turner passed away on March 12, 2016, at Circle of Life Hospice in Springdale after a brief illness. Her physician at Circle of Life was Dr. Larry Wright, Hope native and her high school newspaper editor in 1967. She was preceded in death by her husband, McDowell Turner, and her daughter, Susan Turner Purvis. Survivors include her daughter Ellen Turner (Tom McClure), son-in-law Joseph H. Purvis, grandchildren Paul Neaville (Marisa Luzzatto), Elizabeth Purvis, Benjamin Purvis (Rachel), Emily Neaville, Conner McClure (Hooman Poor) and Scott McClure (Anaia Vestertjele), great-grandchildren Evelyn and Calvin Neaville, Luna McClure, and Ellery Poor. She is also survived by her nieces, Mary Browning McKluskey and Joan Turner Hampton, and her nephews James and Bill Browning.
Mrs. Turner lived in Hope for 89 years and endeared herself to many in the community. She particularly relished seeing her former students and learning about their accomplishments. Her family invites all of her friends and former students to join the family on Saturday to share memories and to celebrate the life of this extraordinary woman. (Courtesy, Herndon-Pharr Funeral Home)