Port Orchard community volunteer Jessie Turner dies

PORT ORCHARD — Port Orchard’s “silent giant” and selfless volunteer has passed on.

Community organizer and Fathoms O’ Fun stalwart Jessie Turner died early on Feb. 21, apparently of cardiac arrest. She was stricken at her home in Port Orchard, where she lived with her husband Jud.

According to her daughter, Dana Petrick of Port Hadlock, Turner was quickly taken to Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton, but she never regained consciousness.

Petrick said Turner’s seven children, part of the couple’s large blended family, were joined by almost every one of her 19 grandchildren. “Almost every single grandchild came to visit her in the ICU at the hospital and say goodbye. Many traveled hours and hours to get here. That says a lot about her.”

Petrick said she attended all of the events her mother organized and marveled at what she was able to accomplish.

“She was a silent giant,” Petrick said about her mother. “I don’t think she ever realized how much she did for the community. She never wanted recognition for what she did. So much of what she accomplished flew under the radar. All she wanted was for the job to get done.”

Turner’s passing leaves something of a void among the ranks of volunteers in Port Orchard, even though she had planned on retiring from her post as chair of the Fathoms O’ Fun Grand Parade, which is staged in late June. Turner had served in that role for 26 years. Her first year as chair was in 1991.

The Sidney Museum and Arts Association also was a beneficiary of the Port Orchard volunteer’s dedication to community service. From 2003 to 2010, Turner took the reins of the organization’s membership and fundraising initiatives.

She also helmed the Fathoms Community Easter Egg Hunt for 17 years, said Sharron King, Fathoms O’ Fun chair.

“Jessie was such a sweet, loving, spirited woman who had a heart of gold and would do anything to make a situation better or help someone,” said King, her close friend and fellow volunteer.

“I will miss her dearly.”

Turner also was a member of Soroptimist International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering women through service to their community, for more than 30 years, King said. She served as president of the organization’s Port Orchard chapter from 1989-1990.

In 1995, Turner was named the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce’s Woman of the Year, an honor highlighting individuals in the community who help make it a better place.

Turner, 77, and her husband Jud moved to Port Orchard in 1987 after living many years in the Seattle area and later in Belfair. Shortly after her move, the Montana native went to work at the Retsil Veterans Home. Her volunteer work in South Kitsap took off after her move.

Petrick said the family is planning a celebration of life ceremony for Turner sometime in April.