Dr. James H. (Jim) Turner, 85, died Wednesday morning, January 22, 2020, at Casa de Paz Assisted Living in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, where he had lived for nearly three years. Jim suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and died peacefully with his wife at his side. Funeral services will be held Monday, January 27, at the Steed-Todd Funeral Home in Clovis at 10:00 AM.
Jim lived a full and fascinating life. He was born on January 28, 1934, in Portales to James D. and Mary Elizabeth Turner, who precede him in death. Schooled in Portales, Jim was selected to Boys State in 1951 and was there chosen to represent New Mexico at Boys Nation in Washington DC. In 1952, Jim graduated from PHS and attended UNM where he joined Sigma Chi fraternity, majored in Business, and joined the NROTC.
Upon graduation in 1956, Jim was commissioned a US Navy Ensign and assigned Quonset Point NAS in Rhode Island before being assigned to a cruiser on the Admiral’s Staff, Sixth Fleet, in the Mediterranean. In 1960, he left the Navy and returned to New Mexico before moving to various locations to sharpen his business skills: Milwaukee, San Diego, San Francisco, Fort Worth, and Houston. About that time, he told his brother that he had decided to move into education “because it would be a more fulfilling endeavor.” Then he earned his Ph.D. in Business Administration.
After working briefly at ENMU, he was hired to help open the newly created ENMU-Clovis branch in 1969. In 1990, Jim was delighted that the community college became independent as Clovis Community College. During his continuous years of service in Clovis, he served as Campus Director, Business Manager, Vice President of Administration, and finally President, yet he continued teaching a class each year in his quest to make life more meaningful for others and for himself.
Even though Jim retired after 30 years, he really couldn’t retire from his service in education. He accepted the Interim VP-Finance of ENMU in Roswell in 1999, living in the dormitory during the week and driving home on the weekends! The next year he commuted to Hobbs, in the same position, to assist that NM junior college. By maintaining operations while each college found a new business officer, he served his profession well.
When those jobs were completed, Jim made time to organize presentations for the Leadership Academy of Community College Business Officers from 2000-2006 in Victoria, BC; San Diego; Tucson; San Antonio; Charleston; and Orlando.
In his personal life, Jim was an active member of the Clovis Rotary Club for over thirty years, and served as Secretary of the City of Clovis Ethnic Fair for many years. In 2007, the Anderson School of Management inducted Jim into their Hall of Fame at UNM. In 2010, the Clovis Chamber of Commerce honored him with the Heart Award, given to special individuals who dedicate extraordinary time, resources, and heart to underprivileged youth, the elderly, and charitable causes in the community. Ten years after Jim’s “official” retirement from CCC, the college honored him by naming a building on campus — the Dr. James H. Turner Business Services Center.
No one’s professional career can be adequately defined in a few paragraphs, but perhaps Jim’s can in two brief sentences from another college president in a private letter: “I regard you as one of the best higher education administrators with whom I have worked in my career. You have an unusual gift of leadership.”
Jim is survived by his wife of 48 years, Carolyn; his son James Michael, of Boulder Creek, California; his daughter Blythe and granddaughter Harper of Rio Rancho; and his brother Sam (Barbara) of San Diego. Jim is also survived by close cousins, Judy (Buster) Laughlin, brother-in-law Raymond Watson, sisters-in-law Teri Watson and Vestana Watson, and many nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Southwest Parkinson’s Society, 3610 22nd Street, Ste. 300, Lubbock, TX, 79410-1349. https://www.swparkinson.org
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