Geraldine Gray Turner
Geraldine Gray Turner, age 94, of Santa Barbara, CA died on Sunday, November 28, 2021 at Lake View Terrace Memory Care Residence in Lake Havasu City, AZ. She passed peacefully in the early morning hours following a visit from her 3 children and other family members who sat at her bedside telling stories while holding her hand.
Despite Gerry (or Jane as the Grays knew her) being a Santa Barbara native and calling it home for close to 90 years, she spent the last 1-2 years of her life in Arizona, something she bemoaned on a regular basis: “Oh for Heaven’s sake! There’s nothing but rocks out here, big rocks, small rocks, and different shaped rocks.” She referred humorously to her life in Arizona as “my life in storage.” But Arizona held a lot of meaning to her, whether she realized it or not. The Grand Canyon was one of the most beautiful places to her and a two weeklong river trip she took down it with her friend Marty Franklin was one of her fondest memories. Let’s face it, she loved rocks—of any size and shape—and was passionate about geology (she studied under Karl Halbach and Dr. Bob Gray at SBCC). Furthermore, she was there with her youngest son John Dudley Thompson III and his family. Thus, her passing in Arizona is quite fitting.
Gerry was born the evening of November 1st, 1927 at Cottage Hospital. She was the only child of Inga and Francis Edward Gray. She attended Harding Elementary School and remembers being carried across the flooded westside streets by the custodian (Mr. Reese) during the rains (the westside had no drainage system in those days). After La Cumbre Junior High she graduated from Santa Barbara High School in 1945, the year the war ended. During her high school years fuel was being rationed so the only way to go on any dates was to ask the local farmers for some fuel. She loved her time at UCSB despite being kicked out of the drama department as she was incapable of memorizing her lines. The newly formed speech department became her new focus, and this move launched her career as a speech therapist, something she was very proud of. She taught at Franklin, Wilson, Peabody, and Monroe Elementary schools and worked at Hillside House, two orthodontist offices, and the Cottage Hospital Stroke Team.
When asked how she wants to be remembered she said, “I would like people to think I was pleasant—of course I think I’m hilarious! I don’t want them to remember me for any big thing I did or thought, I’m not a big thinker—no big fanfare—just a nice person with a good sense of humor.” When asked what life has taught her, she said, “Patience. And to love and enjoy every minute. Even though I crab about my life now, I can’t be sad I got old I need to be happy that I lived that long.” Well, your long life (great grandmother) blessed your family. You touched our hearts, make us laugh, and passed from this world without a big fanfare or fuss, just as you wanted. We will love and miss you for the rest of our lives.