Former Scoutmaster mentor to many
Charles Vernon Turner, 90, of White Oak, who died on Sunday, is being remembered by some of those who became Eagle Scouts under his tutelage.
“He was a really down-to-earth guy,” retired McKeesport Area School District biology teacher Lee Smith said. “He was a friend to us. I learned a lot in Scouts. He was always the guy behind you emphasizing the desire to strive for a goal and achieve it.”
Turner served as Scoutmaster for Troop 30, sponsored first by the McKeesport auxiliary police and then by White Oak No. 1 Volunteer Fire Co.
“Mr. Turner was not only loved and respected by his own troops, but was a well-respected and sought-after leader by the adults in the local and regional Boy Scout councils,” said David Snyder, a semi-retired sales executive now living in Donegal.
Snyder said Turner was rare in Scouting, staying on as a troop leader long after his youngest son, Ken, left active Scouting. Ken Turner graduated from McKeesport Area High School along with Smith and Snyder.
“The biggest thing that was in his heart was the Scouting,” his niece Karen Kittle said. “That he talked about constantly.”
Kittle also is a retired teacher from McKeesport Area district. Turner spent much of his last year living in her home.
“He was a humble man,” Snyder said. “He was not someone who sought notoriety.”
“He was a real outdoors guy,” Smith said. “He took us to Canada, he took us to a lot of places outdoors where other people wouldn't have the opportunity.”
Turner was born in Wellsburg, W.Va. He served in the Army Air Corps in World War II and earned nine Presidential citations, then came to McKeesport where he was a maintenance supervisor at the old National Tube Works.
“He was very proud of his accomplishments down there (at National Tube Works) and of all the boys who worked for him,” Kittle said. “He was a proud American. He was proud of his country.”
Turner was a member of the West Elizabeth Methodist Church and a former member of the Eleventh Ward Welfare Association. He served on White Oak's recreation board and once ran for borough council there.
“Chuck Turner was known as an active, engaged citizen in his community whose commitment and reputation were without question and beyond reproach,” Snyder said. “His advice and involvement were sought out by many leaders in the area. When he had the time, and believed in your mission, you could find no better champion for your cause.”
Turner was widowed twice and is survived by sons Kenneth and Charles E. Turner, as well as their wives, five grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
The Jaycox-Jaworski Funeral Home Inc. in McKeesport is handling arrangements. Visitation is scheduled on Wednesday morning, followed by a funeral service at 11 and burial with full military honors in the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Wounded Warrior Project Fund.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.