Mrs. Josephine Harris Turner

September 01, 1929 - August 25, 2021


Obituary For Mrs. Josephine Harris Turner

Northport Funeral & Cremation Service family extends our warmest condolences and heartfelt sympathies to the family of Mrs. Josephine Harris Turner. Mrs. Turner passed away on Wednesday, August 25, 2021, in Dublin, Ohio.

The funeral service will be held at 1 pm on Friday, September 3, 2021, at Zion Valley Baptist Church in Panola, Alabama. Burial will take place at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Cemetery in Panola, Alabama.


“Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.” ~ Proverbs 31:30~

As we celebrate the life and indelible legacy of Sister Josephine Harris Turner, we remember her as a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister, aunt and friend. We also remember and honor her as the inspirational family matriarch, a devoted Christian, public servant, leader, teacher, author, poet and mentor. Josephine Harris Turner was the fifth child born to the late Levi and Carrie Craig Harris in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama on September 1, 1929. She was born into a loving family of six sisters and one brother: Elizabeth Gibson, Rianna Snider, Pearline Johnson, Johnnie Mae Ferrell, Ida Bell Hobson, Georgene Harris and brother, Webster Harris. All preceded her in death.
She accepted Christ as her personal savior at twelve years old and was baptized into the Lord and united with the Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Romulus, Alabama. It was at Holly Springs that her lifelong commitment and devotion to God originated. She attended elementary and junior high school in Tuscaloosa County Public Schools. After graduating from high school at Tuscaloosa County Training School, Northport, Alabama she matriculated to Alabama State University (ASU) in Montgomery, Alabama. In 1951 Josephine received a Bachelor of Science Degree, Certified as a Secondary Teacher with a minor in Health and Physical Education and a major in English, Social Studies and later Library Media Specialist. Josephine received a Masters in Education from the University of West Alabama, Livingston, Alabama. She further studied at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama where she received certification in Adult Continuing Education. While at ASU, she became a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. In 1956 she became a charter member of Beta Eta Zeta graduate chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Josephine helped to charter the Theta Omega Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Livingston, Alabama where she served as Basileus (President) for many years. She was a member of her beloved sorority for 72 years, actively engaged the entire time. Josephine had an unwavering passion and commitment to learning and to supporting youth as evident by her exemplary 35-year tenure as an Educator in the Sumter County School System. She actively encouraged those around her, especially her children and grandchildren, to continually pursue education, which she considered the key to opportunity. Josephine generously shared her time and resources to ensure her loved ones could achieve their goals. She proudly proclaimed that it was a blessing that all of her children and grandchildren obtained, at a minimum, college degrees.
Josephine was a voracious reader, gifted writer, and a lifelong learner until the very end of her life. She was passionate about current events and rarely passed on an opportunity to engage in a healthy debate. She regularly mailed news articles from the local paper to her loved ones, always enclosing a note to share her opinions on the article. Josephine was arguably just as passionate about Alabama football (Roll Tide) and SEC sports and could oftentimes be found watching reruns of her favorite games.
Josephine’s dedication and commitment to education and service did not go unnoticed by her peers. Throughout her life she received numerous awards and accolades including “Retired Teacher of the Year” from the Sumter County Retired Teachers Association. She was a servant leader and some of her educational services and professional affiliations include:
● President - Sumter County Association of Classroom Teachers
● President – Sumter County Retired Education Association (two terms)
● Vice President - Sumter County Retired Education Association
● Member – Alabama Education Association, Life Member National Education Association
● Sponsor - Elks Oratorical Competition with winning students in local, district and state public speaking contests
● Basketball Coach – North Sumter High School Girls Team
● Outstanding Adult Education Service Award from Alabama Dept. of Adult and Continuing Education
● Member – Board of Directors, Alabama Association of Public Continuing and Adult Education
● Member – Alumni Board of Directors: University of West Alabama, Livingston Alabama
● Member – Sumter County Busy Bee Homemakers Club
● Fifty Year Golden Diploma Recipient from Alabama State University
● Award-Scripps Howard Spelling Bee Sponsor
● Chairperson, North Sumter High School PTA Historical Scrapbook Committee

Religious and Church Affiliations and services include:
● Secretary/Clerk, Adult Sunday School Teacher and Member – Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church, Panola, Alabama (over 60 years)
● President – Northbound Bethlehem District Women’s Convention (20 years), also served Vice President and Corresponding Secretary
● Treasurer – Senior Women’s Missionary Auxiliary of the New Era Progressive Baptist Church State Convention of Alabama
● Certification -Teacher Certification in Bible Studies from Birmingham Easonian Baptist Bible College, Birmingham, Alabama
● President Emeritus – Northbound Bethlehem District Women’s Convention, Panola, Alabama Community Affiliations and Outreach services include:
● Census Enumerator: 1950’s and 1960’s-North Sumter County, Alabama
● Volunteer - Red Cross
● Flood Victims Organizer for Panola, Alabama Flood Victims
Disaster and Red Cross Center for major floods: 1973 and 1979
● Board Member – Sumter County Water Authority, Livingston, Alabama
● Board Member – Panola Volunteer Fire Department
● Troop Organizer – Girl Scouts (4 troops) for 12 years
● Author – Author of three books:
o Poetry for all Occasions: For Listening, Learning and Living
o Poetry to Reach and Teach: Our World, Our Time, Other Worlds and Other Times
o Seventy Years: A Historical Sketch of North Sumter School (1933-2003)
● Community Poet - Numerous Events
● Volunteer - Panola Community and North Sumter Jr. High School

Josephine’s devotion to love and holy matrimony was clearly manifested when she met William M. Turner, Sr., the love of her life. They were married on August 27, 1953, and, through this union, were blessed with two children. Josephine was preceded in death by her husband William, as well as her beloved son, William M. Turner, Jr. Mrs. Josephine Turner transitioned peacefully and triumphantly in her sleep on August 25, 2021, one week shy of her 92nd birthday. She died just as she lived - with dignity and grace.
Those left to cherish her memory and mourn her departure are her loving and devoted daughter, Joan Turner Woodard (Jeffrey) of Columbus, OH and a loving daughter-in-law Shelia Turner of Baton Rouge, LA, four beautiful and talented granddaughters whom she deeply adored, Jasmine Woodard Rose (Evan) of Charleston, SC; Gabrielle Turner of Baton Rouge, LA; Jillian Woodard of Austin, TX and Christina Turner of New Orleans, LA; one grandson, Jordan Woodard of Philadelphia, PA of whom she thought the world, and one beloved great-granddaughter, Josephine Savannah Rose, named in honor of her great-grandmother. She also leaves to cherish her memories, three sisters-in-law, Louise Turner Anderson of Panola, Alabama; Irene Turner Joyner of Killeen, TX and Leone Turner Washington of Huntsville, Alabama. Additionally, she leaves an indelible legacy of love to many outstanding nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends. Josephine truly touched the lives of numerous individuals and her impact on this world will be felt for generations.

An obituary on an amazing person such as Josephine Harris Turner can only reflect a faint glow, but all who knew her will forever remember her light. Such a light cannot be darkened, it will glow forever.

For I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at the day, II Timothy 4: 6-8

Compassionate, sympathetic, and professional service has been entrusted to the hands and care of the Northport Funeral & Cremation Service Professional Team.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all attendees of services and visitations are required to wear a mask and attempt to maintain 6ft social distancing.

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  • Sending heartfelt condolences to the family of Mrs. Josephine Turner. She was truly beautiful and one-of-a-kind. Mrs. Turner was one of my favorite teachers and librarians. Her classes were always a real joy. I credit her with inspiring me to become an English teacher, and ultimately working and retiring as a Librarian for Chicago Public Library. A life, well-lived. A job well -done. May she forever rest in Peace. Love, Deborah Taylor

  • Dear cousin Joan, Aunt Phine was a beautiful woman. Snd leaves behind a great legacy. My deepest heartfelt condolences and prayers for you during this extremely difficult time. Aunt Phine is now resting peacefully with our family in heaven. I love you and pray God's comforting arms to embrace you. Love, your cousin Demitta, Marvin and family

  • Goodbye for now to a very special cousin, whose telephone calls and family history chats we shared together will always be a priceless treasure. RIP Cousin Josephine, to God be the Glory! Sending family love always, Ruby Harris Simon

  • Truly this community has lost an Icon. Sincerest condolences to The Turner family. Extending prayers of comfort to you daughter. She has truly earned her wings. Rest well my friend. Such a free spirit! Patricia Dent. 💙

  • Joan, Rex and I are keeping you and your family in our prayers. I have many personal memories of your mom during our time in High School and as we carpooled while at ALABAMA. She always treated me like one of her own children. Love you!! ❤️🙏🏾❤️ - Jackie Gunn Parker

  • Joan, may God give you and your family the courage and strength to face the days ahead. With our love and deepest sympathy. The family of Tobbie and Clara Taylor

  • Joan, please accept our deepest sympathies on the loss of your mother. She served as the guiding light for your entire family, and has left an incredible legacy of love, joy and beautiful memories for all of you. We pray that those memories will be of great comfort to you in the coming days. We ask God to bless you and keep you in the days ahead. Our heartfelt condolences— Valerie, Kelvin and the Bell-Westbrook Family

  • Sending our condolences to the family at this most difficult time. The Delaine family-York, AL

  • My deepest sympathy for one of the dearest teachers of all time. I remember her well , her first year of teaching at North Sumter . Not to mention the times she took me home with her in Buhl, Al. (for the weekend (s). That's when I knew I was special. That love endured until the end. Peace until we meet again. Bertha Quarles-Pruitt

  • Extending deep and heartfelt sympathy to the family of Mrs. Josephine Harris Turner. She was a Great Lady, an Excellent Teacher and a Wonderful Librarian. It was wonderful learning from her in the School Library at NSH. "What we have once enjoyed we can never loose, all that we love deeply becomes a part of us." Treasure your memories. Gwendolyn Stanton, North Sumter High Class of 1966

  • Dear Woodard Family, What a beautiful woman was Mrs. Turner and what an amazing life and legacy of love she has. Your mother and grandmother was truly exceptional, and exceptionally cherished as well. Our deepest sympathies and hopes for your comfort from the enduring bond you will always share. With love, The Rose and Bell Families

  • I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth PS 34:1 Trusting always In Christ Jesus to carry you through during this difficult time of loss. Gerald & Linda Lemon Omaha, NE

  • Your family is in our thoughts and prayers. She lived a very special life and will be missed. - Ashley Booker & Dustin O'Dell

  • Sending condolences on the loss of your sweet mom and wonderful grandmother. May God comfort you and keep you and you cherish all the wonderful memories.

  • Sleep on my dear friend, Mrs. Josephine H. Turner We love you, but God loved you more. He wanted you to be in her beautiful garden.🙏🏿🙏🏿

  • Sending words of comfort to our sister, Link Joan and her family. Ms. Turner was a trailblazer and clearly leaves a legacy of accomplishment. Link Laura Commodore

  • What a lovely obituary. Ms. Turner was an exceptionally accomplished women. Her decendents should be proud. Rest in Heaven Ms. Turner.

  • Joan, We are saddened to hear that your mother passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. With Heartfelt Condolences , Carats, Inc. Columbus Chapter. Carat Linda Williams

  • Words cannot express the heartfelt condolences and sympathy I feel for you Joan because I have had to walk in your shoes. No it's not justice but it's fair. The Bible tells us to be ready when God comes. But we cannot truly be ready. Yes! It's hard but fair. Your Mother was ready so she answered the call. Left in such a beautiful way. She loved her family but God needed a virtuous woman. He knew Mrs Josephine Turner was the one. Great lady With a heart of gold truly will be remembered. Praying for you and your family.

  • Joan may God bless you and your family during this time. Praying for you all.

  • Sending prayers to you and the family. Aunt Phine will truly be missed. Love you❤ Rochelle Hardaway Jones

  • Please accept our sincere condolences on the loss of your Mother. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.. Carats , Inc. Philadelphia Claudia Averette Williams, President

  • Sending prayers for the family. Aunt Josephine will be truly missed. Sandra/Courtney Bonner

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