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Published: Sunday, 5/7/2006

Union president was lead singer in country band

Jimmy W. Turner, 58, a former president of his union local who was lead singer of a country band for nearly 25 years, died Thursday in his West Toledo home of lung cancer.

He worked several years as a guard at Arkema Inc. in Riverview, Mich., retiring in 2005.

He had been a foreman at the former Benckiser Products plant in Flat Rock, Mich., which made Calgon products. He was an employee there for 19 years. From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, he was local president of the Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers Union.

"He took it very seriously. He felt it was a civic thing," his wife, Patricia, said. "He was in the union his whole life, and he felt it was his duty to be president of the union."

He formerly worked at Monroe Steel Castings.

Mr. Turner and his brother Larry formed the Pacesetters in the 1970s, and the group played country music and country rock at bars and halls around northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan until the mid-1990s.

"He was the lead singer. His brother played the guitar in the band," his wife said. "He loved that because he was just a very outgoing person, and he loved talking to people and singing for them.

"If Jim heard a new song that came out by a famous artist, he would learn it and play it the next week," his wife said. The group released an album about 15 years ago, Look Inside My Heart, made up of songs by Mr. Turner, his brother, and their father.

Mr. Turner and brother Larry first formed a band in their native Tazewell, Tenn. In the north, "Rocky Top," one of Tennessee's state songs, was a group signature.

"He always had to play it because people knew he was from Tennessee," his wife said. "He was just a good old hillbilly boy."

Mr. Turner attended East Tennessee State University. His father moved north to get a job, and Mr. Turner followed.

Mr. Turner liked visiting flea markets and garage sales in search of toys from the 1950s, which for a time he and his wife sold through an Internet auction site. His wife liked collecting. For Mr. Turner, "it was the thrill of the hunt," his wife said.

Mr. Turner bowled in leagues for many years, always with one of his sons, his wife said.

Surviving are his wife, Patricia, whom he married May 23, 1979; sons, Jimmie, Jr., Johnnie, Jeffrey, and Rory; father, Buster Turner; brothers, Larry, Eddie, Glen, and Darrell Turner, and four granddaughters.

Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in Ansberg West Funeral Home, where the body will be after 2 p.m. today.

The family suggests tributes to Central Catholic High School or the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.



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