A memorial gathering took place on March 1 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Woodstock for Tim (Theodore S. Jr.) Turner of Woodstock, 66, who died at home on Feb. 27, surrounded by his family and friends.
He was born in New York City on Aug. 7, 1947, son of Jane Bruyn White Turner and Ted (Theodore Sr.) Turner.
He grew up in Fairfield, Conn., where he collected frogs, turtles, rocks, stamps, and baseball cards. He graduated from the Loomis School where he played football, basketball, and lacrosse, captaining the lacrosse team in his senior year and setting a school and New England Secondary School goal scoring record. He graduated from Lehigh University with a geology major, and continued to score goals in lacrosse, earning a Sports Illustrated Faces in the Crowd appearance his senior year for scoring 11 goals in a single game. You could say he collected goals.
After college, he hitch-hiked across Canada and went fishing in Alaska, then moved to Vermont where he had spent summer vacations at Cedar Beach in Charlotte when the steamship Ticonderoga still sailed Lake Champlain, and where the Turner family had bought and rehabilitated an old hillside farmhouse in Plymouth.
Tim was blowing glass in the Chateauguay section of Bridgewater when he met members of the Porcupine commune in Curtis Hollow. The Porcupines bought a building on Route 4, which they were converting to the Bridgewater Tavern. Tim was hired to do carpentry, at which point he began collecting tools. He set up a shop in his living room, and among other things created a beautiful bar for the Tavern, which was the beginning of his career as a master woodworker and cabinetmaker.
In 1975 Margaret McCracken left Cleveland for Vermont to join her sister, and she caught Tim’s eye. They were married in 1978 and had two boys, Caleb and Fred.
Tim explored alternative building styles, including the “maison plastique” and the basement apartment, before evolving to the design of his beautifully crafted home in Curtis Hollow. He approached all of his building and cabinetry projects with the mind of an engineer, the skills of a master craftsman, and the eye of an artist. He roamed the local woods looking for prime butternut, cherry, and black walnut trees, and collected sawn boards from them, which he labeled and stored in their order of cut so he could make matching doors and panels with mirror grain patterns.
Tim coached Caleb and Fred in basketball and baseball in elementary school, and with Margaret attended all of their games in middle and high school. He grew, supplied, and cooked all the potatoes for the traditional game-day breakfasts for the Woodstock football teams for seven years. He also wrote sport stories for the Vermont Standard, stories marked by a knowledgeable sports vocabulary, a literary flair, and quite often-excessive length because he made sure to mention each member of the team. He was totally devoted to his boys, and was the best dad any two sons could hope for. When as youngsters Caleb and Fred decided to collect baseball cards, Tim joined them, and would occasionally slip the younger Fred a card or two to keep up with his older brother. Caleb complained that this wasn’t fair, and in a quiet moment of fatherly counsel, which turned out to be cruelly prophetic, Tim told Caleb, “Life isn’t always fair.”
Tim was a master gardener. He collected seed catalogs, and his gardens would contain multiple varieties of the same vegetable. He experimented with different planting techniques and soil additives. He was a gourmet cook, an avid reader, and could talk knowledgeably on a wide variety of topics. He was open-minded and an excellent friend; in this case, he didn’t so much collect friends as he attracted them.
In the past year, when he became mysteriously sick and his life became increasingly constricted, Tim remained positive and loving and appreciative of his family and friends. Tim Turner was a prince of a guy.
He is survived by his wife Margaret McCracken of Woodstock, two sons, Caleb and Meghan Turner of New York City, Fred Turner and partner Stacy Abbott of San Francisco, three brothers, Roger Turner and wife Linda Rood of Dummerston, George Turner and wife Jodi of Hartford, and Jonathan Turner of Rotorua, New Zealand, sister-in-laws Adelaide McCracken and husband Steve Killam of Barnard, and Sara Norcross and husband Ken of Reading, best friend Merle Schloff and wife Kathy of Salisbury, and many devoted nieces and nephews.
Memorial donations may be made to the National Stroke Association at stroke.org.
This obituary first appeared in the March 6, 2014 print edition of the Vermont Standard.
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