Family, friends remember Turners' faith

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 30, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY — Two things have stuck with family and friends after the deaths of the Rev. Robert “Archie” and Wanda Turner: the couple’s devotion to Christ and commitment to each other.
The Turners celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on Dec. 7.
And Archie, a minister with the Church of the Nazarene for 62 years, was “about Jesus,” says son Frank Turner, also a minister.
The Turners died Dec. 22 after a fire started in an overloaded electrical outlet in their North Church Street home.
A service for the couple will be held 11 a.m. today at First Church of the Nazarene, 224 West 12th St.
They were the model family, their son said.
Frank, pastor at the Statesville Church of the Nazarene, said his father often tried to make the trip to Statesville to hear him preach, but couldn’t do so regularly because his mother was unable to walk.
“He told me, he said, ‘I made a vow to your momma when we got married and I’m keeping that vow to take care of her,’ and he did,” the son said.
The Turners’ home sits about a block away from the Salisbury First Church of the Nazarene, which Archie Turner built.
Fire tape surrounded the house on Thursday. Wood boarding covered the windows and entrances.
The Rev. Dennis DeLong said Archie Turner loved interacting with others. Despite being homebound in the later years of his life, he could be seen almost daily getting the newspaper and waving at neighbors.
“He was a people person,” DeLong said, “and he had a tremendous sense of humor.”
According to DeLong, the 84-year-old still made it a point to leave the house on Sundays to minister to those at a local nursing home.
“He had to be busy doing things for the Lord,” DeLong said. “Not only has he pastored, but until his death he has gone to nursing homes on Sunday afternoon teaching the folks that are there.”
Frank Turner said his father also ministered at hospitals and prisons over the years.
The Turners were saved at Green Street Baptist Church in High Point in the late 1940s, the son said, and Archie Turner started ministering in the early 1950s after he took over a boys’ Sunday school class.
He continued pastoring in churches across the state and at one point took over the Statesville Church of the Nazarene.
“In 1995, he kept the church open,” Frank said. “He left in 2000 and turned it over to me. That’s where am I now.
“That church was as much a part of his life as the one in Salisbury.”
Frank said his strength through this time is in part attributed to a good family and home life.
Often, he said, the family would play music or pray together in the home.
“We’d have church right there in the house, in the place that burned up,” he said.
But Frank and his two brothers aren’t blaming anyone for the fire that claimed their parents’ lives.
“It’s just a sudden, tragic, horrible accident,” he said.
“God didn’t cause it. The devil didn’t cause it. It was just a freak accident.”