Those Who Have Been Promoted to Glory
Tribute to Aunt Lee Carlton Turner (Unedited)
The state of Florida lost another of it’s “native daughters” on December 23, 2007. Leola Joyce “Lee” (Carlton) Turner was promoted to glory just 7 months after her loving husband, Edgar Walter Turner was called home in May. The service was held December 27, 2007 at the chapel of George F. Hewell and Sons Funeral Home in Jacksonville, Florida. Lee had been a dedicated member of First Baptist Church in the city for many decades and had raised two sons, Robert and Mike, living in Reno and Jacksonville, respectively. However, her life, death and burial cannot be covered in a matter of a few lines in a newspaper, nor in the eloquent words of one Rev. Paul Murphy. All the kind words and good feelings imposed upon the family at this time of grief, must lead to further ruminations, if one is to get a more complete assessment of the spectrum of ones comings and goings. For that, read on.
The memories which Lee left behind are priceless, and the heritage she brought to the table was that of a 5th generation Floridian. Although having resided in Jacksonville since the early 1950’s, it was an inauspicious beginning for the second daughter and third child born to Harley Lee and Ella (Thomas) Carlton that cold December 13th morning in 1931. Ella’s father was Tommie Thomas and her new step mother was Lula (Carlton) Thomas. Ella’s birth mother had been Allie (Hunter) Thomas but had died at age 26 from the fever that was an epidemic which was sweeping the country, back in the early 1900’s. In 1924 the recently widowed Harley had married the 14 year old Ella. Now, with the country in a headlock by the encircling arms of “The Great Depression”, Ms. Ella gave birth to the little sister that Iris had always asked and prayed for. Iris had an older brother Amos, but with Leola joining the fray, the battleground in the Carlton’s household would be equaled, at least in the mind of a 4 year old. Times were hard and money was tight, what with Mr. Harley and Ms. Ella being Share croppers with Mr. Henry Peeples on a farm which would later be owned by Billy and Opal Howard, located in that little corner of Heaven in one of the smallest counties in Florida, now renamed Union. She was born in William Carlton’s (father to Mr. Harley) home who lived on the land line just north of the property presently owned by Myrtice Dukes. William’s wife and Harley’s Mother had been Francis “Frankie” (Parrish) Carlton, daughter of George Washington and Martha (Surrency) Parrish. Some of the latter day Parrish’s would be Olen and Leon Parrish and Robbie Parrish. Nearby lived Harley’s brother Allen and wife Eula, and their children, Gordon, Ruth, Minnie, Aletha Mae, Francis, Robert, Earnest and Eloise. Ms. Ella’s sister Margaret and husband Calvin Touchstone, lived close by. Calvin and Margaret would later bring cousins Annie Laura, Patricia, Rosie Mae and Gloria into the mix. Gloria would grow up and marry Bobby Clyatt, one of the sons of Robert and Vera Clyatt.
In the early 1850’s a clan of Carleton’s (the “e” was not dropped until 1870) called Florida their new home, having settled the new state just after it’s inception along with 50,000 other settlers. From this small number came the millions who call Florida home today and it is to them we owe a debt of gratitude. Lee Carlton Turner was no exception, for it had been her Great-Great-Grandfather, Isaac Blake Carleton and wife Phoebe (Roberts) Carleton, which had waited patiently in South Georgia for the Seminole Indians to cease there wars, before claiming their land grant of 160 acres in what was then New River (in 1861 it would become Bradford County) County. Phoebe was the daughter of John and Phoebe (O’steen) Roberts. A more familiar name from this linage of Roberts’ would be that of C.A. “Clarence” Roberts and daughters Barbara “Babs” (Roberts) Montpetit and Ann (Roberts) Fortner.
Lee was very proud to have been born into a struggling share cropper’s home, for in it she found love and devotion like no other. Love for the family and devotion to their loving God, for it was Mr. Harley and Ms. Ella that taught her right from wrong at an early age and instilled the discipline she would need later in life. It was to this end she strived. Lee and her older brother and sister, Amos and Iris were later joined by yet another daughter of the Carlton’s which was named Alma, aptly referred to all her life as “Doll”. The children attended schools in Miller, Midway and Lake Butler. In 1953 Lee would marry Walter Turner, whose father and mother was Edgar Walter and Ella from Columbia County.
Lee was proud too of her oldest sister Iris (Carlton) Brooks, widow of the late DeWitt Brooks and mother to Bert Brooks. Iris, now living in Georgetown Texas, is the only surviving child of Harley and Ella, and although very close throughout their youth and adult lives, her sister Iris (whom it is said could pass for her twin sister) was her closest confidant in whom she confided most. By testimony from both, it was their daily phone chats in which they relived that part of the country they loved most: the piney woods of North Florida and especially that area known as Dukes, where nearby they spent their early years at the old” Dekles Millpond”. For it had been here that they received important lessons on life from their mom and dad. Harley had purchased 120 acres that encompassed the Mill Pond from Sebe Harris in 1943. The Mill Pond was a place sheltered with giant oaks and hundreds of acres of cypress trees all draped in Spanish Moss. By the time Harley had purchased the property, the mill had stopped turning out tons of grits and flour, and the adjacent saw mill had ceased operations. It was here in the white Florida sand and rich black muck of the peninsulas bottomlands that Harley and Ella raised 4 head of young’uns and left a multitude of memories. Had it not been for a loan from friend and neighbor, C.A. Roberts they would not have ever purchased the Mill Pond and acreage. Those of us who can give credence to that part of the country we love most can say with a certainty, she was most proud of the donation of the old corn crib she knew as a young lady at the Mill Pond which her father, Harley, and my Dad Witt, which they built in the late 1940’s, and which was donated by Regina Parrish and her family to the city of Lake Butler. That small cypress log structure stands as a silent sentinel of a past. Our past. A bygone era that holds like glue, the memories of faded years. Years that have been recalled many times in our rearview mirrors as we headed west on I-10. A past that never shall repeat itself, but can never be erased and for that lee and those like her can feel “Blessed.”
From the Mill Pond, to Jacksonville and on to Heaven, we remember a faithful wife and mother, and a devoted sister. But to me, she will always be the most wonderful Aunt, a nephew could have. And, it would be this wonderful Christian life and love which would sustain her until the end. She was never at a loss for words of kindness to any in need, nor those in discomfort from the daily pearls of life. She, in fact felt it her calling to give testimony to her life as a Christian to any and all who would listen. And, especially in Christmas cards one can find her deep abiding faith. Just 10 days before she died, Mom and I sung “Happy Birthday” to her. It would be her last. And, just 4 days before she died she called me to wish me “Happy Birthday” and ask if I had received her card. I had. Beautiful words. Not just on the card but in her own handwriting. Wonderful words. Words hand written in these, her later years in shaky pen, but kind, loving words forever itched as in stone on a nephews heart. Goodbye, Aunt Lee, both your sister and I miss you greatly.
Lee’s Father and mother, Harley and Ella, are buried at Elzey’s Chapel Cemetery in Union County and her Grandfather William is buried at quaint Hunt Cemetery in said county, as are her Great Grandfather and Civil War veteran Dawson E.L. Carlton. Her uncle Charlie Carlton is also buried there. Isaac Blake Carlton is buried in diminutive Wilds Cemetery in Nassau County. Lee is buried next to her husband Walter in gargantuan Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville.
Written by her nephew, Bert Brooks
James L. Testa (Pepa), 81, joined God in Heaven on Friday, December 7, 2007, at home surrounded by his family that loved him so much. He was born in Renton, PA, to "Louis" Loreto and Maria (Battistel) Testa on December 22, 1925. He proudly served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After honorary discharge, Jim followed a Navy buddy to the Rio Grande Valley where he met and then married the love of his life, Maryan Reeves from San Juan, TX, on June 30, 1950. He was the song leader at People's Chapel in Pharr, TX, for over 10 years. Jim worked at Central Power & Light Co. as a lineman and then line foreman for 27 years before he had his first heart attack at the age of 51. Jim and Maryan moved to Kerrville, TX, in 1984, and have resided here since. He managed the River Oaks Apartments in Kerrville for 7 years. He was an extremely loving family man with the gentlest of hearts. He is, and will always be loved and greatly missed.
Jim is survived by his devoted wife of 57 years, Maryan Testa, and two daughters, Brenda Brooks (Bert) of Georgetown, TX and Karen Snider (Wayne) of McAllen, TX. His sister, Rose Gorleski of Arnold, PA and sister-in-law, Nita Eller (Don) of Henderson, NV. Four adoring granddaughters, Amanda Hawkins (Aaron), Holly Weckwerth (Trent), Traci Wilson (Rodney), and Lisa Molnar (Michael). Two great-grandsons, Sebastian Molnar and Evan Hawkins. Also surviving Pepa are one step great-granddaughter, Kristen Weckwerth and three step-grandsons, Jeff Snider (Caroline), Chris Snider and Brandon Snider; and numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews whom he loved dearly.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents Loreto and Maria Testa, three sisters and three brothers.
Open visitation will be held Monday, December 10, 2007 from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm at Grimes Funeral Chapels of Kerrville. Funeral service will be held at Grimes Funeral Chapels of Kerrville on Tuesday, December 11, 2007 at 1:00 pm, officiated by Brother Don Talbert, with burial to follow at Garden of Memories Cemetery, Kerrville, TX.
Pallbearers will be Wayne Snider, Aaron Hawkins, Trent Weckwerth, Michael Molnar, Jeff Snider and Ron Rolen.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in James Testa's name to VistaCare Hospice at 1001 Water Street, Suite B100, Kerrville, TX 78028. The family would like to especially thank the many wonderful doctors and nurses who took special care of Jim for so many years.
Beatrice Elizabeth Helen Jones, 84, of Jacksonville, NB, passed away on Friday, December 14, 2007 at the Upper River Valley Hospital, Waterville, NB. Beatrice was born in Cloverdale, NB, on August 8, 1923, daughter of the late Jacob and Elizabeth (Smith) Wallace.
Beatrice is survived by three daughters; Gloria Graham (Franklin), Ashland, NB, Mary Orchard (Orland Foster), Cloverdale, NB, Sonia Burpee (Terry), Jacksonville, NB, son, David (Celine Labrie) Royal Road, 13 grand children, 10 great grand children, several Nieces, Nephews and Cousins. Beatrice was the last surviving member of her immediate family. Besides her parents, Beatrice was predeceased by her husband Lorne, sister, Pearl, brothers, George, Ted, Otto, Kenneth, and Jack.
Visitation will be held at The Carleton Funeral Home 337 Lockhart Mill Road Jacksonville on Saturday, December 15, 2007 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9. Funeral service will be held on Sunday, December 16, 2007 from The Carleton Funeral Home Chapel at 2 PM with Rev. Michael Horseman officiating. Interment will at a later date in Cloverdale Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Carleton County Animal Shelter.