Mary Turner, 84, longtime Atlantic resident and educator, died April 23, 2023, of complications from Alzheimer’s at Taylor House Hospice in Des Moines. She and her late husband Larry had been residents of Wesley Acres Senior Living Center since 2019.
Born November 5, 1938, the daughter of Peter and Esther (Fuller) Janss, she went to elementary and high school in Des Moines, attending Roosevelt and graduating from Lincoln High School in 1956. Her mother was a photo editor for the Des Moines Tribune and later for Look Magazine, leading Mary and older brother Pete to take care of themselves after school, providing both a degree of independence early on. Her childhood home backed up to the Ingersoll Avenue Streetcar line, and she would frequently ride by herself downtown to visit her dad at work.
In the Fall of 1956, she enrolled at the University of Iowa and joined the Pi Beta Phi Sorority, graduating in 1960. While at Iowa, she was a journalism/humanities major and was an editor for the student newspaper, The Daily Iowan. In 1959 she was the editor-in-chief of the 104-page back-to-school issue. It was also during this time in Iowa City that she would meet her future husband, a farm kid from Coon Rapids. Upon graduation, she moved to Omaha and worked as an editor for the Northwestern Bell Telephone Company’s magazine.
On April 1, 1961, she was married to Larry Turner, and they were together for 62 years until his passing three weeks earlier on March 29. She is survived by two sons, Pete Turner of Arvada, Colorado, and Stu Turner of Des Moines, his wife Janelle, and daughter Eleanor. She leaves two sisters-in-law, Ann Janss of Charlotte, NC, Mary Fulton of Urbandale, schnauzer Heidi, and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, Larry, a brother, Peter Fuller Janss, her Mother, Esther Fuller Janss, and Father, Peter William Janss.
In 1966 she and Larry moved to her father’s hometown Atlantic, where Larry started his career with First Nebraska Securities. In 1967 Lawrence Peter was born, and Stuart Kevin followed in 1969. Mary stayed at home with the boys until she began substitute teaching in the Atlantic schools, starting full-time in 1976 as a junior and senior high school English teacher. She was later able to return to her journalistic roots as the faculty advisor for both the high school newspaper, The Needle (a small instrument with a point), and the school yearbook, the Javelin. She fully retired in 1997, wanting to spend more time on her other passions: making custom jewelry and volunteering at the Atlantic Animal Shelter.
Volunteering at the animal shelter may be an understatement; Mary put her heart and soul into saving as many dogs and cats as she could. She cleaned cages, fed and cared for animals, made posters, sponsored adoptions, ‘encouraged’ others to volunteer…she was at times relentless. Those efforts paid off, over the years countless animals’ lives have been saved through her and others’ efforts.
Memorial service will take place at 11:00 a.m., on Thursday, May 4, 2023, at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, with Pastor Lauri Boysen officiating. Food and fellowship with family and friends will take place following the memorial service in the reception hall of St. Paul's Lutheran Church. Interment will be at a later date in the Atlantic Cemetery.
Memorials may be designated to the Atlantic Animal Shelter and may be mailed to the Schmidt Family Funeral Home P.O. Box 523, Atlantic, IA 50022.
Services are handled with the Schmidt Family Funeral Home of Atlantic, IA.
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