Eddie William Turner; 1931-2013: Toledo detective was all-city high school athlete

Eddie Turner
Eddie Turner

Eddie William Turner, one of Toledo’s most beloved and respected police officers, died Dec. 8 in his home after an extended illness. He was 82.

But not before he tenderly kissed his wife, Jacquelyn, one last time as she leaned over to tuck him into bed that Saturday night.

“They were married 41 years,” said their son Patrick Turner. “Mom worked hard to take care of him.

“The night he died he kissed my mom, fell asleep, and never woke up.”

Although they grieve for him, both Jacquelyn and Patrick Turner, 30, say it’s hard to feel sad because Mr. Turner lived such a full life and had a positive impact on many people.

Mr. Turner, who was hired by the Toledo Police Department in the late 1950s, was the second African-American to serve in the department, Mrs. Turner said.

He made an instant impact by making himself approachable to the community and participating in programs that quickly earned him trust and respect, according to his co-workers and bosses at the time.

His detective skills earned him many accolades over the years and helped the police department solve many difficult cases.

One of those was in 1967 when he cracked a string of break-ins at a department store warehouse that had netted the crooks about $10,000 worth of merchandise.

In 1987 he was promoted to sergeant.

He was a graduate of Waite High School where he was an all-city football end.

At Findlay College he was an all-Mid Ohio end and received honorable mention on all-service football teams while serving in the armed forces during the Korean War.

On Nov. 4, Mr. Turner was inducted into the Toledo Athletic Hall of Fame, Mrs. Turner said.

“I went out of town once when I was younger and someone asked me who my role model was, Charles Barkley or Michael Jordan,” Patrick Turner recalls. “I said, ‘No, it’s my father.’

“When I was little I used to always put on his uniform and pretend I was him. When my friends and I played cops and robbers I always had to be the cop.”

When Patrick Turner became a U.S. marshal his father gave him the same advice that he did when his son used to dress up in his police uniform.

“The badge and gun are just tools for the job, my father would say,” Patrick Turner said. “It’s the man and his character underneath who is going to make the difference.”

His father sometimes talked about the racism and discrimination that he faced growing up in the South and even as an adult in Toledo, his son said. But his father didn’t dwell on those painful experiences. Instead he encouraged his children to pursue a college education, which would give them more options and better opportunities.

He did talk about meeting and serving Martin Luther King, Jr., during his visit to Toledo in the mid-1960s.

“His father had worked on railroads laying spikes,” Patrick Turner said. “My father always had model trains for me. I think that was his way of staying connected to his youth.”

Surviving are his wife, Jacquelyn; sons, Patrick and Edward; daughter, Kimberly Gant, and three grandchildren.

Memorial services will be 11 a.m. Saturday at Cornerstone Church.

Arrangements are by C. Brown Funeral Home.

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.