Newton County reeled Sunday morning as news spread about the death of Almond Turner.
It happened under difficult circumstances, which are covered elsewhere in this newspaper. Here, though, we come to celebrate the man who had a positive impact on so many people in this community.
Turner grew up in Newton County and graduated from Cousins High School as integration started. He went off to school but came back despite having a chance to go work in Atlanta.
He was hired as a Covington police officer on June 13, 1972.
“I had plans to become a band director, but God had other plans,” Turner said in a 2016 interview. “He had plans for me to serve and protect and I am glad I was obedient to Him and followed the plans He had.”
Those early days were much different, with the city taking out money for Turner’s service weapon and uniform despite the fact he couldn’t even patrol in some neighborhoods due to the color of his skin.
But times changed and people across the community realized the impressive man they had on the police force. He worked to build relationships with local youth and also moved up in the ranks, to lieutenant in the Investigative Division in 1978, captain in 1984 and finally assistant chief in 1997.
People who spoke of Turner used the word “friend” a lot.
Upon Turner’s retirement, police Chief Stacey Cotton called his assistant chief a “close friend.”
“He has been able to keep me grounded in the reality of what our communities need and how to make this department more successful,” Cotton said.
His service didn’t end with the Police Department, though. Turner ran for a seat on the Newton County Board of Education in 1996 and won, holding it until his death.
Shakila Henderson-Baker said her father died right before her own election and recalled Turner taking her under his wing.
“He was the backbone of our school board,” she said. “He encouraged us. He fought for the best interest of our children. And he was our friend.”
Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey called Turner a “friend and mentor” who helped her as she began her journey leading the school system.
“There will never be another Almond Turner,” she said. “He was truly one of a kind.”
Even people who barely knew him told our staff members of their encounters with him. All the stories were positive, about a man who made a positive impact wherever he went.
In death, Turner continues to leave a legacy, inspiring us to service, to making a better Newton County.
That life of service is what we remember today.
Our View is the opinion of The Covington News’ editorial board.