Joyce Turner, age 70, long time resident of Princeton, NJ, passed away at the Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA due to complications following a surgery she had undergone two days previously.
Joyce is survived by Ed Turner, her husband of over 48 years, whom she met in 1969; by their sons Alex Turner and Danny Turner as well as the latter’s wife Jessica Turner, whom she loved like a daughter; her 2-year old grandson Dylan Turner, who was the unrivaled joy of her life in her final years; her sister Debby Herritt; her brother Rob Beldon (Lori); and her brother-in-law Scott Turner (Erica). Throughout her childhood and adult years she was exceptionally close to her uncle and aunt, Ed and Laney Ellis. She was preceded in death by both of her parents, Mickey and Sidney Beldon of Newton, MA, as well as by both of her parentsin- law, George and Gladys Turner of Knoxville, TN. Joyce was quite family-centered
and was a devoted and beloved wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother (or “Mimi”
as Dylan called her), daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, and niece.
Joyce was born and raised in the Boston, MA area and spent significant periods
of her life residing in Pasadena, CA, and in South Brunswick, NJ. She moved to
Princeton first in 1975 and then returned permanently in 1987 after a decade long
absence. Her early schooling was in Newton, MA, and after graduating from Newton
South High School in 1967, she attended Lesley College in Cambridge, MA where she
obtained a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1971. From shortly after her college
graduation until the time of her death, she worked as an educator in many capacities,
from school board member to teacher to volunteer aid in various school settings,
and at every level from pre-school to high school, mostly in public schools but also
for a few years at private schools in California. For the past 19 years, she worked as
a special education teacher at Princeton High School, having been certified in that
specialty in 2001 based on graduate studies at Rider College. Her engagement with
students routinely extended far beyond the classroom, and she was a passionate
advocate for all students and their well being in every possible way she could. Many
consider her to have had a deep and crucial positive influence on their lives.
In addition to her work as an educator, Joyce was an active, enthusiastic and
influential member of numerous civic groups and other local organizations wherever
she lived. In Princeton these included the Minority Education Committee, Not In
Our Town, the Princeton Community Housing Board, Springboard, Inc (which she
directed for several years) at the Princeton Library, the Co-op Nursery School Board,
and the P’nai Or congregation among others. In the 1980s she was twice elected to
the South Brunswick Board of Education on which she served for five years. Beyond
her efforts through such organized groups, Joyce frequently took a strong personal
interest and role in the lives of both students and other young people with whom
she came into contact, either professionally or socially. She was even given the
affectionate nickname “Mama Turner” by a group of young Japanese astronomers
who spent time in Princeton in the 1990s.
Outside of her work and family, Joyce was an avid traveler, visiting 46 US states
and 5 continents plus many island nations. The Boston Red Sox, casino gambling,
mahjong, crocheting and reading were among her numerous interests. She was
exceptionally passionate politically with views solidly situated on the left wing of
the Democratic Party for her whole adult life. Irrepressible laughter, a quick smile,
enthusiasm, quiet determination to fight for social justice, unshakable conviction that
she knew its nature, deep concern for the problems of others, and a sunny disposition
were among her defining qualities as a person.
Through ten major surgeries in less than three years, she struggled fiercely against
a persistent infection in her right hip that ultimately took her life. Her courage,
determination and positive attitude during her illness inspired all those around her.
Her passing has left the Universe a far less bright, happy, kind, and loving place.
A public memorial service to celebrate Joyce’s life and accomplishments will be
held on October 19, 2019 from 2-6 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation
of Princeton worship center (50 Cherry Hill Rd, Princeton, NJ 08540). Donations to
a memorial fund being established in her honor and to support at-risk and special
needs students in the Princeton Public Schools are requested in lieu of flowers or
other material expressions of sympathy. Please make checks payable to “Memorial
of Joyce Turner” and mail them to Alex Turner, PO Box 22302, Oakland CA 94623.