John E. Turner, 72, St. Cloud
December 2, 1948 - May 1, 2021
Mass of Christian Burial celebrating the life of John E. Turner, 72, of St. Cloud will be at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, May 7, 2021 at Christ Church Newman Center in St. Cloud. John passed away surrounded by family on Saturday, May 1, 2021 at the St. Cloud Hospital of complications following surgery. Reverend Joseph Herzing will officiate. Burial will be in Assumption Cemetery, St. Cloud.
Visitation will be from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday at the Daniel Funeral Home in St. Cloud and after 10:00 a.m. on Friday at the church. Parish prayers will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday at the funeral home.
John was born on December 2, 1948 in St. Cloud to Elwin and Merlin (Peschl) Turner in St. Cloud. John was one of two brothers with eight sisters. He graduated from St. Cloud Technical High School in 1968 and from Detroit Lakes Technical College in 1971. He was married to Joyce 1971 and they divorced in 1990. He was blessed with four daughters Janelle, Julie, Jennifer, and Jeana. He was a devoted father and continued to be supportive to the end.
He started his 40-year career at St. Cloud State University in Feb. 1972 and retired in Feb. 2012. He worked in Maintenance and Grounds. He was proud of all his accomplishments such as but not limited to: the pond, bridge and waterfall he built on campus. He then had it filled with coy and other fish. John made life-long friends there. He liked to say “He was a Jack of all Trades and Master of None”, but to that most would have disagreed. He was hard working and put his heart and soul into everything that he did.
In 1991, he became a facilitator for Catholic Charities Support Group for Separated and Divorced. It was here he met the love of his life Rayo Hollencamp and they became good friends. They got involved in Beginning Experience where he worked on several retreat weekends for the divorced. It was during this time their friendship blossomed into love.
John and Rayo were married at Christ Church Newman Center on December 30, 1994. Their friend, Fr. Al Stangl officiated. Into this marriage came his step children: Andrew Hollencamp, and Julie Warzecha, who he already thought of and treated them as his own. From that day he went along with Rayo to all the step children’s (he hated that word) events and sports and in the past 10 years to all of the 5 great-children’s soccer, karate, wrestling matches, school plays or birthday parties. He loved spending time with his grandchildren and being at all their school plays, dance recitals, etc. Nothing in this world meant as much to John as spending time with his family, especially “his girls”.
He was the king of never throwing away anything that could be used again. What he couldn’t re-use at the time he “stored” for later. His wife often said later “thank God for dumpsters”. He was a man with big hands, a broad chest and an even bigger heart. He always had to be busy (If not at home helping, someone else out).
He especially loved working tirelessly in his extensive flower gardens. He had a true green thumb. His huge vegetable gardens, for two people, could have fed an army. He and Rayo shared all of it with family, neighbors and the Sisters of Scholastica. He loved nature and sitting in his yard or window watching an array of birds coming into his many bird feeders. He could identify every one by name or song, with his favorites being the cardinal, black capped chickadees, and the hummingbirds that came to Rayo’s feeders. He loved to walk in State Parks and knew the names of all the trees. He always took the back roads when on driving trips.
John was raised in a devout Catholic home. Although he always remained Catholic he did lose his way after his divorce, but re-kindled his faith after he and Rayo were married. He became a Eucharistic Minister first but moved over to Music Ministry. John loved singing in the church choir at Newman; so much that he started singing in the St. Mary’s Cathedral choir for priest ordinations and other special services until it became too much and then he toned it down just to Newman.
John lit up the world with his kindness, the best hugs, a peaceful demeanor, and an abundance of patience and laughter. To know him was to love him. He was compassionate and treated all people with respect and he was a loyal friend. He was a humble and gentle soul who lived a simple private life.
John volunteered at St. Scholastica Convent entertaining some of the oldest and most fragile there and later pouring coffee for them at supper. All of the sisters loved his individual attention.
He enjoyed the 8 years of Newman Center camping on the weekends with his wife, one of the priests from Newman and college students from SCSU. He once again made many friends with staff and students who stayed in contact with him until his passing.
John knew he would need to have things to keep his hands busy when he retired in 2012. He started building a model train display that grew and grew until it took up half of their lower level at home. He also loved antique clocks with pendulums and bought books to learn how to fix them. He put his heart and soul into everything that he did.
John started volunteering at the St. Cloud Hospital in Step Force - transporting patients to floors. He picked up the earliest shift starting at 6:00 a.m., a time very few others wanted. But being a morning person; it fit him well. He also volunteered with Spiritual Care and NODA (No One Dies Alone), sitting with terminal patients who had no one there.
John also volunteered for the Church of the Week Program, first staying overnight with the homeless at Newman in the winter and later driving the van to and from Place of Hope to Newman on their week.
John took pride in joining AA 7 years ago, working the program with zeal and helping out wherever or whenever he was needed and trying to help anyone who called or asked for help. John made many friends here too. He was understanding and judged no one.
John faced the last 8 years of physical challenges and many surgeries with a steadfast faith, positive attitude and a determination to not surrender. He never complained of stepping up to help his wife or others while going through his own challenges. He always said “it is what it is”.
Survived by his wife, or bride as he liked to say, of 27 years, Rayo Turner; daughters, Janelle (Brian) Meyers, Julie Turner (Wagdy Elbready), Jennifer (Ryan) Robinson, and Jeana Turner; grandchildren, Abdallah and Somyia Elbready, and Alex and Amanda Meyers; step-Children, Andrew (Kari) Hollencamp and Julie (Dale) Warzecha; step-grandchildren, Samantha (Rob) Theisen, Heather (Ryan) Schwagerl and Bailey Hollencamp; his 5 step-great-grandchildren, Arianna, Isaac and Natalie Theisen and Cameron and Reagan Schwagerl who he loved as his own and it showed. He also leaves behind his siblings, Kay Kern, Sue (Russ) Hayden, Nancy Turner, Elwin Jr. (Koren) Turner and LaDonna (Mike) McDowall.
He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters, Chrysanne Turner, Mary Kieke, Alice Turner, and Marlys Turner.
We want to thank all of the staff and doctors in the ICU Unit of the St. Cloud Hospital, especially Big John and Eric. John was treated with constant care and compassion. Their teamwork was commendable.
Memorials are preferred and a donation will be made to John's favorite charities.
Live stream available at