Firefighter, family man farewelled

Death leaves a 'massive hole'

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 08:44 23/07/2014
Fire
GOODBYE: A line of uniformed firefighters stood to attention as the casket of Manawatu man Ross Milton Turner, 65, was carried in to a full congregation at Palmerston North's LifeChurch yesterday.

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Flanked by his former comrades, senior firefighter, orchid grower, engineer and family man Ross Turner was escorted to his final farewell in the highest esteem.

A line of uniformed firefighters stood to attention as the casket of Manawatu man Ross Milton Turner, 65, was carried in to a full congregation at Palmerston North's LifeChurch yesterday.

Turner was killed while pruning a tree at a property in Seddon St, Feilding, on July 16, after safety equipment gave way.

A senior firefighter with the Bunnythorpe Volunteer Fire Service, Turner's 14 years with the brigade were honoured at his funeral with the presentation of a Queen's long service and good conduct medal.

It was placed on his coffin by Colin Smith, senior firefighter in charge of the Bunnythorpe brigade, who recalled Turner joining the brigade after two of his children signed themselves up.

Ever community minded, if they could do it, so could he, a then 50-year-old Turner had assured him.

From that time on, he made himself an integral part of the brigade, and he had a perfect attendance record.

He rose through the ranks from firefighter to senior firefighter, and for a short time was in charge of the Bunnythorpe brigade.

"Thank you, Ross, for all you did for the brigade. There's going to be a massive hole that you've left that we'll have to fill," Smith said.

Turner, a twin to brother Robin Turner, was remembered by his brothers and sisters as the mischievous eldest child, a handyman, hard working, and always ready to lend a hand.

His favourite saying, to cover all situations, was "s.... happens".

"When the chips were down, Ross was the first one there to offer help," sister Linda Larsen said.

A passionate orchid grower, Turner was a founding member of the Manawatu Orchid Society, and named one orchid he bred after his daughter Rochelle.

Attending orchid shows with his dad was something his son Andrew Turner remembered fondly, along with childhood camping trips and the clink of the inordinate amount of keys he kept hanging on his belt that always heralded his arrival.

"He was Dad, a man who despite his imperfections and despite mine, I looked up to, appreciated and respected him."

Son Craig Turner gained his passion for hockey from his father, who was well known in the hockey community as a former player, manager and supporter, who always made an effort to attend his son's games.

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His father's untimely and unexpected death still didn't seem quite real. "I keep waiting for someone to wake me from this dream, correction, nightmare," he said.

He remembered his father's love of jean shorts, his "engaging" personality and his boundless energy, which saw him juggle his time between running a business, C & R Engineering, with his membership in the fire brigade, horticultural club and two orchid societies.

"I've spent almost my entire work life with you every day at C & R, and my days at work will never be the same. I will never forget the opportunity you and Mum gave me with my apprenticeship and I promise I will continue to work for the rest of my life building what you have started."

He asked mourners to "hug your family as much as you can, you never know when it will be the last".

A WorkSafe spokesman said it was not investigating Turner's death. The matter has been referred to the coroner.

- Manawatu Standard

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