turney.jpg William J. Turney

March 8, 1927-February 28, 2008

William J. Turney, 80, of Crockett, Texas, passed away Thursday, February 28, 2008. A celebration of life service is set for 2 p.m. Monday, March 3, at First Presbyterian Church of Crockett, Texas.

They lovingly nicknamed him “Wild Bill” at the Manor in Bryan, where he resided for the past four months. The nickname struck his family as a little odd. The more they thought about it, the more appropriate it seemed to be. William Turney, Bill to everyone he met, embraced life with such enthusiasm and strength that it’s not surprising that the nickname found him. The surprising part was that it had evaded him for so many years!

Bill was the second child of Theodore and Florence Turney of Weldon, Texas. He grew up working at the farm and ranch. He worked a lot of cattle between Weldon and Trinity, Texas, rode a few broncs and even sat on a bull or two at the Huntsville Rodeo. His love for the land throbbed in his veins, as he remained faithful to the home place through out his life. He was the third generation on the Turney place; his grandfather, Ben Turney, had bought it in 1917.

He left home to serve in the U.S. Army as a radio operator in Korea. His experiences there held lasting impressions and molded his sensitivity to human plight and compassion for suffering. When World War II came to a close, Bill returned to Weldon and enrolled at Sam Houston State Teacher’s College. After graduating from Sam Houston with a bachelor’s degree in education, he searched for a job in the Houston area. He found much more than a job, though. He met his anchor in life, Wilma “Sue” Jean Nelson, and they married in May of 1953. Shortly after, Bill was hired by Dow Chemical and he and Sue settled down in Angleton, Texas.

While raising four children, Bill and Sue commuted between Angleton and Weldon. The ranch and farm stayed active and productive but not without an intense amount of sacrifice, energy and vision. From working cattle to dozing pasture and stock tanks, to raising gardens, seeing his parents through their challenges while serving as a deacon and an elder for First Presbyterian Churches of Angleton and Crockett, Bill stood in solid commitment.

Bill finished his career as a production foreman after 34 years at Dow Chemical. Bill and Sue moved back up to the Turney place to build their dream home. They set up a saw mill, cut and milled their own lumber from the land and built their home the way their vision guided them. Bill’s commitment to the land continued to grow through his participation with Houston County Landowners Association and Texas Forestry Association.

Survivors include three sons, Joe and Jim Turney of Angleton, Texas, and Paul Turney of Bryan; daughter, Susan Woolsey of Weldon, Texas; six sisters, Bennie Hahn of Los Altos, Calif., Genevieve Ratcliff of Fort Worth, Barbara Robbins of Bellevue, Wash., Julia Lamance of Boyd, Texas, Ann Thomson of Losa Altos, N.M., and Carrie Turney of Fort Worth; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

The family is requesting that donations may be made to support the Houston County Landowners Association Scholarship Fund, 703 Norman Lane, Crockett TX 75835; Hospice of Brazos Valley, 502 W. 26th St. Bryan, TX 77803; and the St. Joseph Foundation, c/o St Joseph Manor, 2333 Manor Drive, Bryan TX 77802.

To quote an ex-Army buddy, “Dear Bill, It has been a long time since those wild days of fun, and I still have to tell you, your grip is second to none.” Yes, Bill Turney had one heck of a grip: on life and family, on your heart and on your hand.

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