COLUMBUS, Ga. — Hundreds of people gathered Thursday to celebrate the life of local philanthropist and civic leader, Bill Turner. The Columbus legend valued faith, family, and community above all and it showed in the afternoon service.
“I like many of you am a better person because I knew Bill Turner,” Dr. Ron King said.
Saint Luke United Methodist Church was filled with Mr. Turner’s compassion, faith, humor and boundless vision shared by those who knew him best.
With servant leadership as his life’s goal, Mr. Turner led a life of love and always asked what he could do for the community.
“I believe that for many of us, he’s mainly just Bill who loved us,” Mr. Turner’s friend and former Sunday school student Betsy Covington said.
Mr. Turner taught Sunday school for more than 60 years. Every year, Turner gave each kid a Bible and inside he would write his phone number and this simple message:
“If you need me, I’m here for you and then on the world’s most beat up tape player, he would play this song,” Covington said.
The song was “You Got a Friend,” performed by Carson Hand.
A friend is exactly what Turner was to those who ever met him.
The former W.C.Bradley President and CEO made his biggest impact outside of business as a philanthropist, Sunday school teacher and family man, with the last one being the only title he cared about.
“Bill loved being called Pappy and Daddy, but Bill Turner did not want to be known by his titles, by his position,” Dr. King said.
Rather he wanted to be known as a servant leader carrying out his faith by serving the community, usually anonymously, and bringing people together through love.
“As much as he valued his church and his family, he valued the quality of life in this community and had a passion and vision for it,” Rev. Robert Beckum said.