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TURNBULL – Elizabeth Marie “Esther” (nee Becklund)

April 6, 1914 – March 11, 2010

Esther Turnbull passed away peacefully in Calgary on Thursday, March 11, 2010 at the age of 95 years.

Esther is lovingly remembered by her son Jim; and daughters, Marjorie and Valerie (Grant). She was so proud and closely followed the activities of her nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Esther is also survived by her loving sister Ruth, brother-in-law Bud (Bessie); and sisters-in-law, Muriel and Edna. She was predeceased by her parents George and Alma Becklund; her husband of sixty-three years Mason; daughter Lois; granddaughter Carrie; and brother John and his wife Helen who was Esther’s sister-in-law and best friend since childhood.

A Funeral Service will be held for Esther at the Community Hall in Lousana, AB on Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. Graveside Service will be held next to Mason at the Youngstown Cemetery on Monday, March 22, 2010 at 1:00 p.m., followed by a Celebration of Esther’s Life at the Youngstown Community Hall at 2:00 p.m. Forward condolences through If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to S.T.A.R.S. (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society), Box 570, 1441 Aviation Park N.E., Calgary, AB T2E 8M7 Telephone: (403) 295-1811, or to the Mustard Seed Street Ministry, 102 – 11 Avenue S.E., Calgary, AB T2G 0X5 Telephone: (403) 269-1319,

In living memory of Esther Turnbull, a tree will be planted at Fletcher Park, Airdrie by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Chapel of the Bells, 2720 CENTRE STREET NORTH, CALGARY, AB Telephone: 1-800-661-1599.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Bill Greenwood :

    It may come as surprise to you, but virtually all of my weekly columns serve as a tribute to Mrs. Turnbull. It was my great good luck to have spent time under the wing of a woman who can be rightfully considered a Great Teacher. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for sharing her.
    In her memory, I have submitted the following to my editors at the Red Deer Advocate, in the hopes that it will be published this Saturday, March 20.


    Bill Greenwood

    Most of you will have paid little attention to a modest obituary in the paper this week.

    Having lived to the grand old age of 95, my former teacher, Mrs. Esther Turnbull has passed away. For me, and many others I’m sure, her legacy will continue for some time to come.

    Mrs. Turnbull taught me for 3 years in the southwest corner of Lousana Consolidated School, and in those three years she instilled within me a lifetime of values.

    Mrs. Turnbull took over the melding of little minds in the 4th grade, after the formidable Mrs. Elsie Berg had drilled into us the ability to read and write and add and subtract, and then some. (Some day we’ll get into the legacy of Mrs. Berg, but suffice it to say that if you weren’t versed beyond your years at the 3 “R”s after Mrs. Berg, it’s likely that you were literally incapable of learning.)

    There were great lessons to be learned in Mrs. Turnbull’s classroom, and I doubt that many of these lessons are taught well in any of today’s politically correct teaching environments.

    Literature was a staple of Mrs. Turnbull’s classroom. One corner of the room comprised of simple bookshelves groaning under the weight of dog eared encyclopedias, fading National Geographics, and scores of books aimed for readers our age and much beyond.

    For several years, a staple in Mrs. Turnbull’s classroom was a mid-winter book interlude. In one-hour blocks, she would read aloud to us a selected book from start to finish. In that manner, I “read” Jack London’s “Call of the Wild”, Mark Twain’s “The Prince and the Pauper”, and the autobiography of Will Rogers.

    Aside from the story, Mrs. Turnbull was able to use that time to help us grasp the nuances of the English language, by illustrating and explaining subtleties of inflection and dialect.

    By instilling in us an appreciation for the written word, Mrs. Turnbull was than able to teach us other, powerful, social lessons.

    In her classroom we learned the costs and the value of freedom and liberty.

    We were taught the importance of standing up for what you believe in. There is no one beyond her that can lay claim to my own deep beliefs in the importance and supremacy of individual liberty.

    Having learned to read under the firm (Did I say firm? Firm as in granite, maybe…) guidance of Mrs. Berg, every student of Mrs. Turnbull learned the skill of standing in front of a class and reading aloud with skill and alacrity. (She’ll be proud I used that word. If you don’t know what it means, well, I can’t help it that you didn’t have her for a teacher.)

    She taught us how to communicate, and how the written word was one of the most powerful tools we’ll ever get to use in our lives.

    She taught us how to think, to analyze, to examine critically. While she ruled her classroom firmly, debate was encouraged and accepted. Points were given and taken.

    Upon exiting a three year stint under the tutelage of Esther Turnbull, and bursting into junior high school and adolescence, it was expected that you could read, write, and comprehend at a high school level.

    As it is, and as it was, much of what was learned in those three years was never fully appreciated until years later.

    In high school, while wholly unable to differentiate a dangling participle from a subjugated verb, all-and I mean all- of her former students could stand up in English 10 and read Shakespeare, skilfully conveying the humor, satire, and wit of the Great Bard, at a level that should have embarrassed some of our peers who had been recipients of so-called “better” educations.

    The smug satisfaction of that gives way later on to the gratitude that comes from knowing that having been taught to skilfully communicate pays dividends in other areas of life. Knowing where you learned it and who taught you is a nice little bonus.

    There are probably less than 100 of us left that spent three years under the wing of Mrs. Turnbull and we all bump into our Mrs. Turnbull lessons in different ways.

    For me, it often comes at the keyboard, on the rare occasion that I manage to adroitly arrange a phrase in a manner that befits my Great Teacher’s efforts, or when the manifestations of the nanny state inflame my libertarian sensibilities.

    There’s a greater lesson here, as well. In the end, it is the teacher and not the books or the computers or all the other resources that will teach the child.

    Mrs. Turnbull taught me that.

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  2. Dear family of Esther Turnbull
    My sympathies go out to you at this time.
    You have an interesting family. The last time that I saw a group of you was at the number 9 reuion. I have visited with Ruth several times and especially when she lived in Red Deer. I will miss Esther’s cheery face and warm visit.
    I am sending a donation to Stars in her memory
    with Sympathy
    Mabel Edler

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  3. Jody and Darren Kuz and family :

    It was a privilege to have been taught by Mrs. Turnbull. My children thought is was very cool that I was still in contact with my grade 4, 5, and 6 teacher. They were right. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

    Jody Kuz

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  4. Pat Blair, Corinne McInenly and family :

    Dear Turnbull family,

    We would like to offer our condolences on the passing of Esther. She was so special to so many of us, we can’t imagine how much she will be missed by those of you who were fortunate enough to know her as family.

    We share the sentiments of Bill Greenwood and his wonderful reminiscences in the Red Deer Advocate and thank him for so aptly describing the atmosphere and events we remember and for finding the words to convey the nature of the lasting contribution Mrs. Turnbull made to so many lives as a teacher and friend.

    Mrs. Turnbull had the ability to seamlessly blend scholastics with her solid and wholesome philosophy for living, and taught as much by her example as from any lesson plan. The subtle wisdom she imparted through her work ethic, integrity, sense of humor and patience gave her classes “heart” in addition to academic excellence.

    We will always cherish Mrs. Turnbull’s contribution to our lives, and will remember her with affection and gratitude.

    We regret that we are unable to attend today, but we are honored to be able to join in the celebration of Esther’s life in the days since her passing by revisiting our memories of her and by sharing these thoughts with you.

    Pat Blair
    Corinne McInenly (Kerr), Marilyn Kerr and Pearl Kerr

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