by Matt Kelly
Ray Turner is still in the game
Turner now has the best of both worlds work he still enjoys
and time for fishing.
honored recently for 45 years serving the University, works in
chemical inventorying for the microbiology
department. He retired from that full time in 1999, but he
keeps his hand in, working three days a week.
started [at the Medical Center] in 1956, after graduating from
Nelson County High School, Turner said. I wanted to
be a brick mason, but I couldnt tolerate heights, so I started
work in housekeeping.
the years, Turner, 64, moved around, training to work in the clinical
labs under Dr. Oliver B. Bobbitt and later as a lab aide B
in the clinical storage room, lab technician and lab technician
had to sterilize all the glassware, so we were working autoclaves
and dishwashers, he said. We had to set up the glass
slides for the students in clinical pathology. We had to mix all
our own chemicals; now you just order what you want from the supplier.
who has had an abiding interest in baseball, also kept active
on the diamond.
is my No. 1 love in sports, he said. I like football
and basketball, but baseball is No. 1.
played outfield and catcher for more than 20 years on local teams,
such as the Vikings, which hosted home games in Washington Park,
and the South Garden Tigers, which won a championship for the
was playing for the Vikings when he was spotted by a scout for
the Baltimore Orioles.
said I had a very good chance of making it in the majors,
The scout wanted him to go to Richmond for a tryout and if he
passed that, he would be sent to a farm team for some seasoning
before being moved up to the Orioles. While it was a temptation
for a 20-year-old, Turner declined. He was already a husband and
father, and his wife, Mary Ethel Turner, had been diagnosed with
sickle cell anemia.
had to come first, he said.
had to work somewhere with good benefits and readily available
health care for his wife. He credited the doctors at the Medical
Center with their work in treating her and bringing her health
problems under control in later years.
not playing in the majors, Turner kept his hand in baseball, playing
in the Valley League until he was around 40, then turned to softball,
which he played until he was in his 50s. Then he started coaching
intramural teams, including the Clinical Lab Tiger Tops. He herded
his team, sponsored by Morrisons Cafeteria, to three softball
championships, in 1995, 1996 and 1997.
beat [the team from] physical therapy in 95 and 96,
Turner said. They had a powerhouse team but we rocked them.
was saddened when the Valley League atrophied and faded away a
few years ago.
upset me, he said of the baseball leagues demise.
The young people werent able to keep it going.
said that basketball and football held their attention more. He
also blames the drug culture for turning youth away from sports
altogether. He said he was pleased that the University is investing
money in its baseball program.
said he has no regrets for rejecting the scouts offer.
played it out of my system locally, he said. If I
had it as a job, I might have lost interest in it. Now that it
is all out, I feel good about life and the people I work with.
from coaching softball for the intramural teams, he also coached
the Trinity Church team. Turner has recently shifted to another
sport, bowling, noting that it keeps him fit, he can do it year
round, it satisfies his requirements for competition and it does
not interfere with his fishing.
along with his first wife, raised three sons. Mary Ethel Turner
died in 1990 and in 1995 he married Joan Vaughan Turner. Turner
enjoys spending time with his family, which now includes four
is planning extensive renovation of his house. He also continues
planning fishing trips with friends.
work still has an attraction for him.
still want to work and I like the job, he said, noting that
he puts in about 20 hours a week, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
When I am working with the young people, I am the old timer,
although I dont feel it. I get along well with them.
said he has worked at teaching young people to be technicians
and is proud of what he has done here.
has seen a lot of change at the Medical Center in his time
departments splitting into new entities, responsibilities shifting,
the Medical Center itself expanding and he said through
all of it he has adjusted.
he is not sure how many more years he will work, he smiled when
he said that 50 was a nice round number.