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Almond Turner dies
Retired assistant police chief served decades on school board
Covington Police Department Assistant Chief Almond Turner, left, stands with Chief Stacey Cotton at the CPD's recent awards banquet.

COVINGTON, Ga. — Almond Turner, retired assistant police chief in Covington and a member of the Newton County Board of Education, has died.

He died Saturday night, Nov. 23.

He was a Covington native and graduate of R.L. Cousins High School.

Turner was the city’s longest tenured employee, with 45 years of service, when he retired in 2016. He had served as assistant chief since 1997.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Turner was elected to the county school board in 1996 and was in his sixth term. He served as chairman in 2018.

“We are stunned, devastated, and heartbroken,” Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey of the Newton County School System said in a statement Sunday morning.

“Mr. Turner was a life-long supporter of our community and its school system. He always wanted and fought for what was best for our students and employees and we looked forward to him continuing to serve on our school board into the foreseeable future. But more importantly, on a personal note, Mr. Turner was my friend and mentor — someone who helped guide me as I began the journey as superintendent of this school system.

“I will never forget his advice, his kind words of encouragement, and most of all his friendship. There will never be another Almond Turner. He was truly one of a kind.”

Shakila Henderson-Baker, who served on the school board with Turner and succeeded him as chair in January, also was stunned by the news.

“Mr. Turner was a leader in our community and our school system. This is hard,” Henderson-Baker said. “Almond was and is a man who spent his life serving and protecting others, whether it was serving on the police force or serving the community as an advocate for public education. I am shocked to hear of this tragedy. He will absolutely be missed.”

Turner attended Fort Valley State University to study music but later earned an associate degree in criminal justice at DeKalb Technical College (now Georgia Piedmont Technical College) and a Bachelor of Science from Troy University. He also graduated from the FBI National Academy in Virginia in 1982, and the Command College at Columbus State University in 2002.

He was a deacon at Springfield Baptist Church in Conyers, where he served on the Ministry Protection Team. As a lover of music and patron of the arts, Turner was a noted supporter of the Newton County Community Band.

“Monday nights will not be the same without him,” a notice of Turner’s passing read on the band’s Facebook page Sunday morning.

School system officials recalled Turner’s emphasis on ensuring student safety, including installation of security cameras on campuses in the district.

“Almond is a hero to all of us. He was the backbone of our school board. He encouraged us. He fought for the best interest of our children. And he was our friend,” Henderson-Baker said. “I am absolutely devastated at this loss.

“I grew up seven doors down from Almond Turner. He watched me grow up from a little girl. My dad died two days before my first election but Almond came to me and said, ‘I got you.’ And now my ‘I got you’ is gone. I am devastated. We all are.”

Turner is survived by his wife, Anita; children, Dwahn, Shaye, and Shundra; and several grandchildren.