Kay Turner (Tyrrell)
Jean Kay Turner, beloved mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, teacher and true friend to so many, passed away June 10, 2018 at the age of 84 in her Arlington, Texas home from complications of pneumonia. Kay was a kind and gentle soul who believed in the power of love and cared deeply for her family, friends and the creatures of the earth.
Kay was born in Canistota, South Dakota on October 21, 1933 to Preston and Irene Tyrrell. She loved to tell stories of her grandmother’s marvelous garden and her grandfather’s general store in Canistota. Her father’s position as school superintendent and later college registrar began a long line of educators in the family. Her family moved to Madison, South Dakota where Kay and her sister, Jane, grew up across the boulevard from the campus of then General Beadle State Teacher’s College (now South Dakota State University).
As a popular and beautiful young woman, Kay was elected homecoming queen at General Beadle where she also sang in the chorus and was a member of the honor society. She loved her summers working at Sylvan Lake in the Black Hills of South Dakota and at Rising Sun Lodge in Glacier National Park in Montana. In 1954, Kay married Clarence Steven “Steve” Turner, a teacher of English and French at General Beadle. After teaching stints in South Dakota, Michigan, Texas and Pennsylvania, the young couple and their two daughters, Brenda Jean and Deborah Ann, relocated to Austin, Texas for Steve to pursue his doctoral degree in English.
Their next move took them to Arlington, Texas, where Kay lived the remainder of her life and became a highly respected and beloved member of the community, particularly among Arlington’s teachers and students. After earning her bachelor’s degree from Texas Wesleyan University, Kay completed a Master of Liberal Arts degree from Texas Christian University in 1984. She taught elementary school, primarily third grade, in Arlington for over 30 years, much of it at Hill Elementary, influencing generations of children who loved her kind, patient, and gentle ways and her effective and fun approach to learning. No matter where she went in Arlington, former students remembered her, often stopping to let her know she had been one of their favorite teachers.
Kay was honored for her exemplary service as an educator and colleague upon her retirement from teaching in September 1995. She then turned her attention to her other loves – travel, reading, the arts, spending time with her family and volunteering in the service of others. She spent several years assisting at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas, tutoring adults in reading, and helping at the Arlington Public Library.
Travel took Kay from the fiords of Norway to monasteries in Italy to Native American lands that she loved in the Dakotas and the Southwest. She had a spiritual connection with Native American culture, art, and music and respected the reverence for life in Native American traditions. In addition to playing the piano beautifully, she was a talented artist and writer who appreciated the value of reflection and meditation, especially during challenging times. In her later years she enjoyed regular Tai Chi practice and loved the friends she made there, many of whom supported her during her final illness.
Kay’s personal style and grace were admired by her family, students and friends. She had a flair for elegantly simple clothes with artistic combinations of color and texture. Her poise and chic were ever present, whether dressed in denim and turquoise or evening attire. She delighted her students and daughters with festive sweaters or outfits for every holiday. Kay also had a gifted eye for interior design, and her home was a perfect blend of color, art, and comfort. She was a great cook and she welcomed family and friends to her inviting home frequently.
While her frame was petite, her heart was huge, and the caring and love she always showed people, her pets, lost animals, and all God’s creatures reflected her firmly held beliefs of charity and kindness to all. Her concern and compassion for those who had lost their way or needed a friend was admired by all who knew her.
Kay had a positive outlook mixed with a sense of fun and energy that helped her balance the substantial demands of raising a family while working full-time. She brightened any gathering with her million dollar smile and keen sense of humor, and she and her life-long teaching friends had many an adventure. These fun-loving, smart, competent women were simply amazing. They gave their talents generously to generations of students who grew up admiring their grace and emulating their wonderful attributes.
Kay loved her family dearly and her grandchildren, Turner, Chris, and Steven, brought her immeasurable joy and pride throughout her life. She gave each of them the gift of unconditional love, support and an abiding interest in everything they did.
No one could have loved Kay more than her two daughters, Brenda and Debbie. She was their touchstone throughout life and never stopped quietly demonstrating for her daughters the importance of caring for others and giving back to those less fortunate. Kay was a gentle person, but she did not tolerate those who bullied or hurt others. She fiercely defended the people and animals she loved and those who simply needed protection. Her generosity, loyalty, and core values set an example for her family and friends. Her quiet dignity and sense of fairness informed her family’s lives and will continue to do so for years to come.
Kay is survived by her daughter Brenda Turner Cubbage of Arlington, Texas; her daughter Deborah Turner Kochevar and son-in-law Gerald John Kochevar of Grafton, Massachusetts; her granddaughter, Turner Ann Journey of Arlington, Texas; her two grandsons, Christopher John Kochevar of Washington, D.C. and Steven John Kochevar of New York City, New York; her sister Jane Hofkamp of Albert Lea, Minnesota; her special friend and niece, Jodie Hofkamp Echols of Modesto, California; her nephew Jay Hofkamp of Hartland, Wisconsion; and her sweet kitties Bert and Fred. Kay was predeceased by her parents and her husband, C. Steven Turner, who died in 1992.
Many thanks to her caregivers Wanda, Barbara, and Paula, who cared for Kay in the last weeks of her life. A very special and heartfelt thank you to Winter Patterson who was Kay’s constant companion, friend, and loyal caregiver throughout the last year of her life.
A celebration of Kay’s life will be held on Saturday, July 14 at 10:00 am at Vandergriff Chapel, First United Methodist Church of Arlington, located at 313 N. Center St., Arlington, Texas 76011. In lieu of flowers, donations may be directed to Kindred Spirits Animal Sanctuary, Santa Fe, NM (http://www.kindredspiritsnm.org/) or Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children (https://scottishritehospital.org/contact).