Lionel Turner, c. 1954

Photo courtesy of Adventist Heritage Centre, Australia.

Turner, Lionel Harold (1907–1993)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

First Published: December 29, 2021

Lionel Harold Turner was an educator at various academies and spent 16 years at Avondale College Mathematics and English departments.

Early Life and Education

Lionel Harold Turner was born in Maylands, suburban Perth, Western Australia, on September 8, 1907. His parents were Alfred John and May Louisa (Chipper) Turner. Alfred worked as a railway clerk.1 Lionel had a brother named John “Jack” Herbert Whidby Turner who was born in 1905 and became an orchardist at Walliston in the hills near Perth. Later, two sisters named Dorothy and Margaret were born into the family.2 Alfred and May Turner converted to Seventh-day Adventism as a result of attending a 1915 tent crusade in Maylands conducted by Elder Leslie Imrie.3

The public elementary school at Maylands was where Lionel gained a scholarship that entitled him to attend the prestigious Perth Modern School in 1920 for his academy level training. The institution was credited as the first government school in Western Australia to be co-educational. It accepted only bright students. In his final year, 1924, he did some teacher trainee work as a monitor for the government Education Department.4

Rather than advancing to university studies and secular acclaim Lionel chose to pursue a denominational career. He enrolled at the West Australian Missionary College, 1926 and 1927, and then transferred east to the Australasian Missionary College (AMC) at Cooranbong, New South Wales.5 At AMC (later Avondale University College) he breezed through two courses in three years, graduating from the Ministerial Course in 1930 and the Normal (Teaching) Course in 1931.6

Career in Education

Lionel’s first appointment was to teach at the church school in Warburton, Victoria, during 1932 and 1933.7 At the close of the year he wed Joyce Elizabeth Tamzon Peacock in the Wahroonga church, Sydney. The Education secretary for the Australasian Union Conference, Elder William Gilson, performed the ceremony on December 22, 1933.8 The first five years of their married life, 1934 through 1938, were spent in Perth where Lionel served as principal of the Perth Central School in Hay Street, Subiaco, near Perth Modern School.9 During his teaching years in Perth he studied at the University of Western Australia, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree.10

For the 1939 school year Lionel was transferred to teach English, French, and Mathematics at AMC. It heralded sixteen years of distinguished performance at the senior institution, broken only by study leave. He earned the reputation of being an articulate teacher, a wit, an incisive thinker and a thoughtful preacher. Students nicknamed him Socrates.11

At AMC Lionel actively promoted social reform and athletics. He was instrumental in the formation of a gymnastics club, a diving platform for young men, swimming facilities for the young women and classes with the Royal Lifesaving Society. He was one who successfully agitated for the introduction of board games for Saturday evening entertainment, permission for young men to wear shorts to college picnics, the use of Christian names among the students instead of addressing each other as Mr. or Miss. and a range of courtship privileges under strict supervision.12 He was forthright. Against all custom of the day he wrote in the college periodical, “It is cynical nonsense to debunk romance just because the protagonists happen to be students, or to suggest that the whole experience should be kept in cold storage till career has taken care of itself.”13

On one occasion a student handed his assignment book to Lionel for assessment and forgetfully left inside it a sentimental note he planned to pass to his girlfriend. Writing romantic notes was taboo. Inevitably, Lionel found the note, corrected a couple of spelling errors with red ink and returned it inside the student’s book without saying a word. The student was greatly relieved to realize that Lionel, probably with a smile, had turned a blind eye to the infringement.14

During his time at AMC Lionel served as Registrar, 1947 through 1954.15 He had also earned a Dip. Ed. and an M.A. degree even though he had passed up the opportunity to do university studies early in his experience. While Registrar he was given study leave, 1948 and 1949, earning a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.16

In 1955 Lionel entered a new phase of his teaching career, taking up responsibilities as principal of the Sydney High School (later Sydney Adventist College). He served in this capacity until December 1959 and remained at the institution for a further six years teaching mathematics.17 His last years as an educator were difficult ones because he struggled with failing eyesight, barely able to see what he was writing on the blackboard. His sad condition brought an early retirement to Geelong, Victoria, and later to the seaside town of Tuross Heads on the south coast of New South Wales.18

Final Years

Despite his infirmity Lionel maintained an exercise routine in his retirement and enjoyed listening to recorded music. He passed away on December 10, 1993,19 and rests in Avondale Adventist Cemetery on the campus where he spent the pinnacle of his career. Joyce and their two sons, Lynn Anthony and Terence Kimball, survived him. Joyce passed away in September 2006 and rests with Lionel at Avondale.20

Sources

Australasian Missionary College Annual Announcement. Cooranbong, New South Wales: Avondale Press, 1946.

“Church School Staffs for 1936.” Australasian Record, September 23, 1936.

District of Perth. Birth Certificates. Government of Western Australia Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Perth, Western Australia.

Gilson, W[illiam] J. “Turner-Peacock.” Australasian Record, January 22, 1934.

Hay, Marian M. “Avondale Ex-Students Gabfest.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, July 8, 1968.

Hook, Milton. Avondale: Experiment on the Dora. Cooranbong, New South Wales: Avondale Academic Press, 1998.

Imrie, L[eslie] J. “Maylands, Western Australia.” Australasian Record, August 16, 1915.

Lawson, T[homas] C. “A[lfred] J[ohn] Turner.” Australasian Record, May 9, 1938.

“Lionel H. Turner.” Find A Grave Memorial.com. 2020. Retrieved from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/209278723/lionel-h-turner.

Lionel Harold Turner Biographical Information Form. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Wahroonga, New South Wales. Work Service Records. Folder: Lionel Harold Turner. Document: “Lionel Harold Turner Biographical Information Form.”

Lionel Harold Turner. Perth Modernian Society Museum Association. Alumni Records. Document: “Lionel Harold Turner.”

Litster, W[illiam] R. “May L[ouisa] Turner.” Australasian Record, August 29, 1938.

Parr, Robert. “Tribute to Gifted Educator.” Record, February 5, 1994.

Turner, L[ionel] H. “Co-education - God’s Ideal Plan.” Avondale Far and Near, May 1946.

Notes

  1. District of Perth, Certificate of Birth no. 101405 (1907), Government of Western Australia Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Perth, Western Australia.

  2. T[homas] C. Lawson, “A[lfred] J[ohn] Turner,” Australasian Record, May 9, 1938, 7.

  3. L[eslie] J. Imrie, “Maylands, Western Australia,” Australasian Record, August 16, 1915, 6; W[illiam] R. Litster, “May L[ouisa] Turner,” Australasian Record, August 29, 1938, 7.

  4. Lionel Harold Turner. Perth Modernian Society Museum Association. Alumni Records. Document: “Lionel Harold Turner.”

  5. Lionel Harold Turner Biographical Information Form. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Wahroonga, New South Wales. Work Service Records. Folder: Lionel Harold Turner. Document: “Lionel Harold Turner Biographical Information Form.”

  6. Australasian Missionary College Annual Announcement (Cooranbong, New South Wales: Avondale Press, 1946), 45-46.

  7. Lionel Harold Turner Biographical Information Form, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Wahroonga, New South Wales. Work Service Records. Folder: Lionel Harold Turner. Document: “Lionel Harold Turner Biographical Information Form.”

  8. W[illiam] J. Gilson, “Turner-Peacock,” Australasian Record, January 22, 1934, 7.

  9. E.g., “Church School Staffs for 1936,” Australasian Record, September 23, 1936, 6.

  10. Lionel Harold Turner. Perth Modernian Society Museum Association. Alumni Records. Document: “Lionel Harold Turner.”

  11. Milton Hook, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora (Cooranbong, New South Wales: Avondale Academic Press, 1998), 173-177.

  12. Ibid.

  13. L[ionel] H. Turner, “Co-education-God’s Ideal Plan,” Avondale Far and Near, May 1946, 11.

  14. Marian M. Hay, “Avondale Ex-Students Gabfest,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, July 8, 1968, 13.

  15. Lionel Harold Turner Biographical Information Form, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Wahroonga, New South Wales. Work Service Records. Folder: Lionel Harold Turner. Document: “Lionel Harold Turner Biographical Information Form.”

  16. Milton Hook, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora (Cooranbong, New South Wales: Avondale Academic Press, 1998), 195.

  17. Lionel Harold Turner Biographical Information Form, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Wahroonga, New South Wales. Work Service Records. Folder: Lionel Harold Turner. Document: “Lionel Harold Turner Biographical Information Form.”

  18. Robert Parr, “Tribute to Gifted Educator,” Record, February 5, 1994, 10-11.

  19. Ibid.

  20. “Lionel H. Turner,” Find A Grave Memorial.com. 2020, accessed September 25, 2020, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/2092278723/lionel-h-turner.

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Hook, Milton. "Turner, Lionel Harold (1907–1993)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. December 29, 2021. Accessed September 25, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=6IK3.

Hook, Milton. "Turner, Lionel Harold (1907–1993)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. December 29, 2021. Date of access September 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=6IK3.

Hook, Milton (2021, December 29). Turner, Lionel Harold (1907–1993). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved September 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=6IK3.