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Dion William Turner

August 18, 1939 July 10, 2020
Dion William Turner
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Obituary for Dion William Turner

Dion was born in Cleburne, Texas on August 18, 1939, the only child of W.L. and Hattie Mae Turner. His mother always said that she chose his name because “it was pretty and unusual”. In early childhood, his parents moved to nearby Godley, Texas. The name “Godley” frequently elicited a smile from those not familiar with the area and gave Dion the welcome opportunity to expound on the virtues of a small town up-bring and the many adventures of his youth. Texas was always whispering in his ear.

He graduated with a class of 13 from Godley High School in 1957, and then attended John Tarleton Jr. College in Stephenville, Texas earning an Associate Degree in Industrial Education. He then graduated from North Texas State in1961 with a bachelor's degree in Industrial Education. He received a master's degree in secondary education at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK in 1970. Dion was commissioned through the Air Force ROTC program at North Texas University in August of 1961. He was assigned to Lowery AFB, CO, for missile tech training, and then on to Orlando AFB.

While living in Orlando, he met and married the former Linda Buhl of Ocala, FL. After a few short months of marriage, Dion left for duty with the Operational Command for the MACE B missile at Bitburg AFB, Germany. Linda followed shortly after and they enjoyed three years of work and travel in Europe. In 1967, Col. Turner was assigned to Oklahoma University, Norman, OK, to teach ROTC students. They purchased their first home in Norman, and Linda found a job teaching fourth grade. While at the University they never missed an OU football game in three years. Daughter, Kristin Diona (Deedee), was born in May of 1968 in Montgomery, Alabama, while Dion was attending Squadron Officer's School. The family returned to OK and enjoyed many trips to Godley to visit family and friends. When Deedee was two years old, a new assignment arrived for Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, MT. Daughter, Kerri Kathleen, joined the family in November of 1971. While in Montana, the family learned to love trips to the surrounding mountains, camping with friends and learning how to drive in snow! The first of several German short-hair dogs joined the family as well. By 1972, Dion was assigned to Southeast Asia with the 344th Combat Support Group Korat
Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. Linda and the girls moved to Ocala to be near her parents to await his return. From April 1972 to August 1973, he served as special operations officer. This was truly an eye opener for a boy from small town Texas. The children of Thailand stole his heart as he directed the building of water wells, schools, and medical clinics on their behalf.

In 1973, he was assigned to headquarters United States Air Forces Europe at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. After a brief visit to the U.S., he left for Germany, with the family to follow. At Ramstein he worked as training officer in charge of funding, construction, and programming for all of the dependent schools in that command from September 1973 to July 1975.
On a personal note, Linda was fortunate to make contact with distant German cousins who welcomed the family with open arms and enriched their lives with visits and more opportunities to enjoy their adopted home.

Colonel Turner then served as Commander of the 7501st Munitions Support Squadron, Buchel German Air Base, Germany, from July 1975 to June 1978. This was truly the highlight of their life in Germany. The squadron was assigned to a German base as support and they lived among the local community. It was truly a challenge and an educational opportunity for a small group of Americans to live among their German neighbors and enjoy all of the local customs and holidays. An hours drive from any American base gave them an opportunity to learn and speak German, shop in the local stores, visit many historic sites, and climb many hills to visit castles. It was a unique experience.

He was reassigned to Malmstrom AFB, MT in June of 1978 as vehicle equipment control branch later becoming the missile maintenance supervisor. He took over as Commander of the 341st Field Missile Maintenance Squadron in January of 1979 and remained at Malmstrom assuming the duties as Deputy Commander for the 341st Combat Support Group in 1981.

Col Turner was assigned as Deputy Chief of Maintenance Minot AFB, North Dakota, and then Chief of Maintenance 91st Missile Maintenance Group in 1985. He retired on 30 June at Minot AFB, North Dakota. It was an amazing career and a hard fought challenge met with dignity and success. He loved every minute of it. He was a man of many talents who enjoyed listening to classical and old country music, reading, and memorizing poetry. He constantly doodled in the margins of his books and sketched outdoor scenes. Among his talents was a love of carving figures and turning beautiful bowls and containers. Although his handwriting was atrocious, little notes were scattered all over the house. He valued education and would often stop while checking in at the main gate at Malmstrom to urge the airmen on duty to further their education. He loved his girls; his grandchildren, Jackson, McKenna, Zoe and Lola; his dogs and his horses; and he challenged all of them to be the best they could be.

He is survived by his wife, Linda; daughters, Deedee Malsam (fiancé Mike France) of Great Falls and Kerri (Derek) Villeneuve of Seattle, WA; grandchildren, McKenna Malsam, Jackson Malsam, Zoe Villeneuve, and Lola Villeneuve; brother-in-law, Fred (Kelli) Buhl; and their children of Elizabeth, CO.

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