Marlene Helen Turner was born at the Vernon Jubilee Hospital in Vernon, BC on September 27,1950 when times were simpler. She was born to Lester Paynton and Audrey Bateman Paynton. Marlene was the second oldest and had 4 siblings, Daryl, Gary, Steve and Sandra. The family moved around a lot when she was younger, mostly staying in the Okanagan area. When she was 16, she met a young man named Gordon Turner and they were married a year later at a small family wedding in Salmon Arm.
Marlene and Gordon started out their married life living in Radium Hot Springs. Soon after, they were delighted to find out they were expecting a baby but sadly she suffered a miscarriage. They were devastated. They continued to live in Radium Hot Springs for awhile longer and were very happy to discover that they were expecting once again.
Marlene and Gordon decided to move to Fort Nelson when she was 18. They were excited about the baby on the way and Gordon wanted to buy a backhoe and find a way to provide for their family. On the way, they stopped in Fort St. John to camp for the night, planning to carry on in the morning. It snowed overnight and when Marlene saw the snow on the tent in the morning, she told Gordon that it was as far north as she was willing to go. They decided to stay. They rented a house on the Old Fort Road that had no running water or indoor plumbing and only 45 gallon barrels of water on the front porch. Marlene would often reminisce about living in that house, marvelling at how they made it through those hard times.
In September of 1969, Kevin Gordon Turner was born. They loved being parents and in June of 1971, Marlene gave birth to their first daughter, Kimberly Katherine Turner. They eventually moved to a trailer in Charlie Lake that had only cold running water. Bath times for the littles ones was a process as she had to heat the water and give the children a bath in 2 inches of water in a roaster. This became the norm for the family. Life was hard but they were determined to make a better life for their family.
Gordon continued to grow his small business and began making a name for himself while Marlene enjoyed being a stay at home mom. At this time, Marlene’s mom Audrey moved to Fort St. John as well, bringing Marlene’s two youngest siblings along with her.
In 1973, Marlene and Gordon were delighted to find out they were expecting again but in December of that year, tragedy struck when Marlene lost her mother suddenly. It was devastating and consequently, Marlene took on the parenting role of her youngest sibling, Sandra. She was only 23 years old at the time and really still a baby herself. She was now responsible for a grieving 12 year old and two little ones with another on the way. These were very difficult times but she managed like she always did. Marlene was the strongest person we have ever known. In January, 1974 their second daughter Kelli Michelle Turner Eklund was born.
In June of 1974, when they bought the house on the South Taylor hill at Mile 30 ½ on the Alaska Highway, they felt like they had struck gold! Their new house had running hot and cold water and a regular sized bathtub. They often said that they felt like they had moved to a mansion! Life was good. It was there they continued to raise their three children and her youngest sister Sandra, while Gordon continued to build his business, G-T-Xcavating.
In 1976, tragedy struck again as Marlene gave birth to twin boys who passed away shortly after birth. It was devastating to the whole family. Life seemed to be always full of challenges for Marlene but she never gave up and she never complained. Her sole focus was to keep her family happy and healthy, often putting her own wants and needs last on the list.
Marlene and Gordon were delighted to welcome one more child to the family in June, 1978 when Kyle William Douglas Turner was born. Marlene was content with her little family and decided to get her tubes tied. About a year later, she ended up having a tubal pregnancy which resulted in the loss of yet another child. The loss of these children affected her all of her life.
The family grew up on the top of the South Taylor hill riding horses, snowmobiles, and quads. For awhile they had an outdoor pool which was a source of countless summer days of fun. Their family, immediate and extended, had more fun than anyone could’ve ever thought.
Over the years, Marlene and Gordon always had an open door policy which gave shelter to many people, including their younger siblings Sandra ,Steve and Doug. They never turned anyone away and hosted numerous people over the years who needed a warm bed and a hot meal.
Anyone who knew Marlene and Gordon knew there was always food on the table and plenty of it. Marlene was an amazing cook and family gatherings will be very different without her special touch. Anyone who had the pleasure of sitting at a table for whom Marlene cooked for was a very lucky person. She catered many events over the years including Christmas parties and weddings and her reputation was that of a legend. She never made a bad meal in her life and she always found a way to make sure there was enough food at each and every function.
Gordon and Marlene raised their family in the community of Taylor. All four children attended Taylor Elementary School and Marlene was the president of the PTA for many years. She loved being as involved as she could in anything her children were a part of. In the early 1980s, the Turner family was introduced to the sport of curling. It didn’t take long for the entire family to fall in love with the sport. The four Turner kids ended up growing up in the Taylor Curling rink and there was always a member of the Turner family curling each night of the week. Gordon and the boys made and took care of the ice, while Marlene and the girls took care of janitorial chores, and eventually running the bar upstairs. Marlene worked tirelessly to keep the bar stocked and always had a knack of putting her special touch on everything and the Curling Club was no exception. She turned the bar upstairs into a cozy, inviting place for friends to gather and make memories. Now, she not only catered food for many functions, she also ran the bar for many gatherings as well. She always worked hard and never complained.
As if she wasn’t busy enough, Marlene also took on the role of President of Taylor Minor Ball for many years. As mentioned before, Marlene was always willing to work hard on anything that involved her children. This didn’t just include her biological children, but also the many kids who became surrogate members of the family over the years. Countless young people considered Marlene and Gordon to be their surrogate parents and they always knew there was an open door for them at the Turner home.
Marlene and Gordon continued to raise their family at the family homestead at the top of the hill. They went through good times and hard times like any other family, but they always weathered any storm. They enjoyed watching their children grow up, graduate from high school, go off to college, and get married.
In July of 1991, they were ecstatic to become grandparents for the first time when Gordon was born. They became grandparents again in October, 1992 when Brandon joined the family. Marlene loved being a grandma more than anything else and was delighted when more grandchildren continued to join the family. Matthew was born in 1993, Braylan and Joshua in 1994, Tanysha joined the family in 1995, Brysan in 1997, Chelanea in 1998 and Brayden in 1999. Marlene and Gordon were happy with their little family and enjoyed every minute they got to spend with their children and grandchildren.
Being in the community for as long as the family was, Marlene was well known for her tireless commitment to family and friends and Gordon for his commitment to the excavation industry in the area. He built G-T-Xcavating into a viable business that was able to make it through the many recessions that occurred over the years. They were the hardest working people that many of us have ever met. G-T-Xcavating employed many members of the family and Marlene and Gordon were very proud of what they had accomplished.
In September of 2000, tragedy struck the family again when Gordon passed away in his sleep, way before his time, at the age of 53 years old. Marlene was now a widow at the young age of 49 years old. The family was devastated. Marlene once again showed her resilience and determination as she took it upon herself to continue on with the excavation business, along with the help of her family. It was yet another hurdle she took on like a force to be reckoned with. She was thankful for the community helping to guide her and her children through a difficult time when they had lots to learn about running the business. She had some very big shoes to fill. This was a woman who, up until that day, didn’t have so much as a bank card and only a grade 8 education, but she fearlessly took over the business so her children would still be employed and be able to carry on the legacy their father had started from the ground up. She continued to amaze us with her strength and resilience each and every day.
With the help of the children, Marlene was able to continue to grow the business and G-T-Xcavating continues to thrive to this day. We know that this would make her and Gordon very proud. They were very proud of all they had accomplished over the years and were some of the hardest working people you would ever know.
Marlene was thrilled to have many more grandchildren join the family after Gordon passed away. Tyler was born in 2001, Hannah in 2002, Calie in 2003, Jonah in 2004, Josiah in 2007, Alex in 2008, Mikayla in 2010 and the youngest, Grace was born in 2011. There was no one Marlene loved more than her grandchildren. Her face lit up at the sight of them and she never forgot a birthday or special event. She was the most amazing grandma that any of the kids could ever ask for. She knew how very dearly each of them loved her and they knew just how much she loved each and every one of them. She was even more thrilled when her great grandchildren Taija, Alexander and Mya joined the family. Baby Caleb was born just days after Marlene passed away. Marlene was happiest when she was snuggling a baby in her arms.
Marlene was always willing to help anyone who needed it. Whether it was financial support, moral support or just an ear and a cup of coffee. She was always there for whatever you needed. She also had a bit of a stubborn streak that was often a useful tool in her bag, but sometimes, when it came to her own self care, she would pull that stubborn streak out of her bag and push her own needs aside to keep on, keeping on for her family. She never seemed to have time to be sick. So when she was struck with the big C in 2016, she was devastated. She never imagined that that was the reason for her feeling so ill. She was determined to beat it and with that, and her stubborn streak, she gave it her best fight. She underwent 12 rounds of chemotherapy and it kept the cancer at bay for some time. When it returned in the summer of 2019, she wasn’t given much hope by Canadian doctors. She hadn’t flown in an airplane for close to 30 years but when the opportunity arose for her to get alternative treatments in Mexico, she didn’t even hesitate. She spent 6 weeks fighting for her life in Mexico and felt very taken care of by the staff at the clinic. She never gave up and she fought hard until the very end.
Marlene so wanted to be around for more great grandchildren, more great nieces and nephews, more weddings, more graduations and any other big events in her big, crazy family. That’s when Marlene was her proudest, watching her family grow and becoming nice people.
Marlene continued to help in the community in her later years in numerous other ways, often helping her oldest daughter set up her classroom in the Fall and helping to provide the students with a wonderful Christmas breakfast or dinner each year. She continued to tend bar and/or cater many events and help family and friends whenever she was needed. This is one of the things she will always be remembered for. Marlene’s heart was so big and generous in so many ways and the hole she leaves in her community and family will take a very long time to heal. She was loved by so many.
She would not want us to mourn over our loss for too long but to pull up our socks and continue living life and showing love and compassion to all those that come into our lives. She was the best mother, grandmother, sister, auntie, great auntie, and friend that you could have in your court and most of all a good human being who often cared more for others than for herself. She was the most unselfish person, which is a rare find in this day and age. With all the issues going on in this world, she always tried to find the good in it all. Marlene always had the best advice for anyone who asked and, in some cases, for those who didn’t but she felt they needed to hear it. She was always wise beyond her years and we will move forward knowing she is watching over us, keeping a keen eye on the situations we put ourselves in, and trying to help guide us through our times of need from the other side.
Marlene passed away on October 1, 2019 in Tijuana Mexico after a long, courageous battle with cancer. Expressions of Sympathy can be donated to the Taylor Curling Club as this is where the Turner family spent a lot of wonderful time together and Marlene would love to see her community helped in some way. She is survived by her children Kevin (Lori), Kim (Ryan), Kelli (Dean), Kyle (Dana); 16 grandchildren, four great grandchildren, her brother Steve (Marlene), her sister Sandra (Darren), her stepmother Ethel, and many nieces and nephews. She will be forever missed.
Taylor Curling Club
Box 300, Taylor BC V0C2K0