Jim Turner, who died last week, was a happy man with many talents and a long resume.
He was a prolific poet, a ham radio operator, a book store owner, a real estate agent. He was a well-regarded reporter at the Lodi News-Sentinel early in my father’s tenure here.
I was very young when Jim worked at the News-Sentinel, and I always liked him. As a high school and college student, he encouraged me. As a young adult, I discussed buying my first house with Jim.
But Jim was — let me choose my words here — unconventional.
When he died, his wife Lee came in with his obituary and said Jim wrote it himself. It wasn’t an obituary at all. It was a poem, a beautiful reflection on his childhood and his view of the here-after.
I thought to myself: This is vintage Jim Turner. I can’t run an obit without a date of death or the last name of the deceased.
I solved the challenge of reporting Jim’s passing by writing his obit myself — straight, just the simple facts. Then I asked Lauren Nelson to find a place in today’s Lodi Living section for his poem, which I titled “Obituary.” I hope Jim would approve and that you will enjoy it.
As I said, Jim was unconventional. My father is not. Jim was a poet. Dad is a businessman.
Back when they worked together, I sensed tension growing between them as Jim took on more responsibility in the news department. I never knew the details, but I knew that Jim’s leaving the paper was not easy for either of them.
When reporter Sara Jane Pohlman interviewed Jim in 2012, he recounted his resignation in gentlemanly fashion: “Fred Weybret saw something in me that wasn’t there and made me managing editor. I hate dealing with people — the hiring, the firing, the chastising, the coddling. It’s just not my mug of coffee. After a year ... I had to go.”
After he left, Dad always spoke well of Jim. He loved to patronize his bookstore, and I heard them trade stories and fond greetings more than once.
What I learned from the incident was how grown men work together and conduct a friendship while living in a small town.
They taught me that finding the right words keeps friends and builds communities.