As reported by family members and the Deseret News, Richard Eyring Turley, Sr., passed away on Sunday, October 10, 2021. Richard served as president of the Theodore Turley Family Organization from April 2010 through April 2014. He was a long-time participant in the TTFO and regularly attended family meetings and events until his health declined a few years ago.
The February 2001 TTFO Newsletter published a short spotlight of Richard E. Turley, Sr., shortly after his release as a General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That biography is reproduced below. Note: Richard’s first wife, Jean, passed away in 2009. In October 2010 he married Ana-Maria, who survives him.
Excerpt from the February 2001 Theodore Turley Family Organization Newsletter, p. 3-5
Recently Released Seventy and Faithful Wife Continue to Preside over Exemplary Family
On Saturday, October 7, 2000, at General Conference, Richard E. Turley, Sr., was given an honorable release as a Seventy and General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His release was prompted by the Church’s policy that Seventies serve until they reach the age of seventy.
“What a wonderful experience it was to serve once again in Mexico for a couple of those years,” says Richard, who was assigned to serve as a counselor in the Mexico South Area Presidency. As a young man, Richard served in the Mexican Mission from April 1950 through October 1952. Richard and his wife Jean also presided over the Mexico Hermosillo Mission from 1983 to 1985. They loved the Mexican people and will miss that association.
There were many highlights to their recent ministry including the opportunity for Richard to dedicate two small-temple sites, one in Villahermosa, Tabasco; the other in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas. The site for the Villahermosa temple was at the exact location where years earlier Harold and Ireta Turley had parked their trailer during the time Harold served as a full-time regional representative. It was touching to Richard as he was able to remind the people of the pioneering work which his Uncle Harold and Aunt Ireta had performed there.
Strong Testimony Makes First Impression
Richard and Jean Nickle met in Salt Lake City during the Spring of 1953 while Richard was a student at the University of Utah and they both attended the University Ward. Richard’s special interest in Jean was not kindled, however, until he heard her stand up in a fast and testimony meeting and declare her beautiful and strong testimony as she might have done at one of her southern-style street meetings.
Jean’s parents had joined the Church when she was very young, and she was baptized at age 9 in a pond behind the Monkey House at the Springfield Zoo! When she was 13 she would go to Eureka Springs, Arkansas with her sisters and uncle and bear her testimony at street meetings as well as in Sacrament meetings. These meetings were attended mostly by non-members and many baptisms resulted. At the age of 18 Jean completed a short full-time mission and also served as a district and stake missionary in Missouri.
Before she was married, Jean attended BYU, and graduated from the Ruth Tollman Modeling and Finishing SchooI in Salt Lake City. She also worked as a legal secretary.
When the snow began to fall in October of 1953, on Saturday afternoons Richard could often be found on the ski slopes at Alta, Utah. He finally persuaded Jean to try it, and intuition told Jean there was a lot of competition for her up on those slopes. She was determined to meet that competition, however, so she went out on a Friday afternoon and bought herself a complete ski outfit. On Saturday she went skiing with Richard and he was so pleased with her that during the evening of the next day, Sunday, he proposed to her. Jean sold her ski outfit on Monday, and she has never been skiing since!
Richard and Jean were sealed for time and for all eternity on Thursday, April 1, 1954. Why on April Fool’s Day? Richard told Jean that it was the biggest joke of his life. Jean, being very quick-witted herself, responded by saying, “Well, if it doesn’t work, I’ll just go home to Mama!” Actually, they selected that date because it was convenient for both sets of parents to come to the wedding from their respective homes in Texas and Missouri. The parents were also able to enjoy sessions of General Conference on the weekend following the wedding.
Seven Children Quickly Bless Turley Home
Richard and Jean were blessed with seven children. Their first, Winifred Jean, came during the last months of Richard’s schooling at the University of Utah… [in] 1955. They then moved from Salt Lake City to Ft. Worth, Texas, where Richard worked on a project to build a nuclear-powered airplane. Richard Jr. was born in Ft. Worth… [in] 1956. The family subsequently moved to west Texas and then back to Salt Lake City where Stephanie was born… [in] 1957.
[In] March… 1958, Richard and Jean moved into their first house and on that same day their third daughter, Teresa Joan, was born—just one year to the day after their previous child had arrived. Richard was employed as a professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Utah and the next year… [in] 1959, their son, William, was born. And, the next year… [in] 1960, their third son, Jeffrey, was born. It hadn’t taken long for their house in the Canyon Rim area just south of Parley’s Canyon on the east side of the Salt Lake Valley to become too small for their growing family of eight.
Farm Life Next; Menagerie of Animals…
The Turley family then bought a five-acre place on Fort Street in Draper, which is in the southern part of the Salt Lake Valley. The acreage, along with a large two-story turn-of-the-century home, was large enough for the children to run and play as they chose. There was also room for their menagerie of animals including two horses, a milk cow with her two calves, two ewes, two hogs, and some chickens! It was there that their last child, David, was born… [in] 1962. It is interesting that their two ewes, perhaps in celebration of David’s birth, also brought forth three cute little white lambs on that same day.
In 1963 the Richard Turley family uprooted themselves again. This time they went to Ames, Iowa, where Richard Sr. would teach and do research at Iowa State University. He also completed his doctoral work there in 1966. In 1967 the family moved to Richland, Washington, where Richard worked for Battelle Northwest, a private think-tank research institution.
Family Finally Calls Salt Lake City Home
The Turleys loved the Northwest, but after five years the University of Utah and the State of Utah convinced Richard to return to Utah to accept a professorship at the University of Utah and a position in state government. They have lived in Salt Lake Cily ever since, except for their mission president call from 1983 to 1985 and their recent call to the Seventy from April 1997 to October 7, 2000, most of which time was spent in Mexico.
Jean Proves It Is Never Too Late…
Following their mission to Hermosillo, Mexico in 1985, Jean enrolled in BYU’s Independent Studies program and five years later graduated from BYU just before her 62nd birthday, thus setting a great example for their children and grandchildren that it is never too late to learn.
In 1999, while Richard was serving as a general authority in the Mexico South Area, Jean did not feel well. When they came home for the April 1999 General Conference, Jean suffered a heart attack. She believes it was a great blessing that this occurred in Salt Lake City, one of the world centers for cardiac surgery, rather than in Chiapas, Mexico where they had visited just days before to dedicate a temple site. As it was, they arrived in Salt Lake City on Friday, she had her heart attack the following Monday, and a bypass operation took place two days later.
The trama from the operation caused the lower part of Jean’s left leg to be paralyzed and both of her lungs filled with fluid. As a result, she was confined to a wheel chair for several months and had to use supplemental oxygen. While being administered to by her husband, her sons, and Elder L. Tom Perry, Jean was promised that she still had much to do in this life, and through the faith of all concerned she has experienced a miraculous recovery.
AIthough Jean’s tberapist was doubtful she would regain the full use of her left leg, she has slowly recovered and can walk very well now. Her left lung cleared within a few days of her surgery, but her right lung needed to be drained time and time again, until they finally resorted to a somewhat radical procedure to stop the flow of liquid into her chest cavity. Since Jean has a history of asthma she now has only 44% of her normal lung capacity, for which she has been participating in a muscle-toning program at the University of Utah, and is doing much better at the present time.
In spite of her serious health problems, Jean was able to support her husband in his ministry as a general authority. After her heart attack, and to the end of the ministry, they resided in Salt Lake City. She actually was able to attend all but two of his many stake conference assignments.
Richard emphasizes the great influence Jean has wherever she goes with him; he will tell you she spreads a tremendous amount of happiness with her sparkling eyes, her personality, and her wonderful smile. On occasion, Richard will sing the following words to her: “Children love you; they seem to know; You bring roses out of the snow. The whoIe world says ‘Hello!’ everywhere you go!”
The family as of this date has expanded from the original two to over 50, incIuding their children and their mates, their 36 grandchildren and their mates, and one great-granddaughter.
Grandpa Turley, who serves as a regular sealer in the Salt Lake Temple, and Grandma Turley are looking forward to being able to witness the faithfulness of their posterity as they share with them the blessings of eternal marriage.
AIl of Richard and Jean’s children have been married in the Salt Lake Temple, as well as both sets of his grandparenls. Ed and Ida Eyring Turley came all the way from Colonia Juarez, Chih., Mexico to Salt Lake City in October 1893, the year the Salt Lake Temple was dedicated, and Tom and Margaret Roche came from Cedar City, Utah in June of 1896.
“Although we have all had our challenges,” says Richard, “life has been good to us and the windows of heaven have been opened repeatedly for this Turley family. Our hopes and prayers are that our families will each remain true and faithful in all things.”
2 thoughts on “Former TTFO President Richard E. Turley, Sr., Passes Away”
Mary Ann, Thank You! It was so tender to remember events in Richard’s life. I have known him all my life. His father, Vernon, was a man of Faith. He was mission president in the Hermosillo mission after my father, Harold was. It is interesting to note the first president of that mission was my father, then George Turley, Alvin Romney with Lucille Turley, and then Richard. Then Richard dedicated the land for the Villahermosa temple, the land where my parents lived when my father was a regional representative for that area. Such sweet memories!! Richard was a man of Faith who served the Lord all of his life.
Uncle Dick and Aunt Jean took me in my Freshman year at BYU. It was too expensive to fly home to El Paso for Thanksgiving and at times I was very homesick and lonely. Most of my friends had gone to college in Texas, California , and Arizona! I loved all 7 of my cousins and since that day, they have all been very kind to me. While doing my student teaching in Salt Lake City, they took me in and let me live with them until I returned to BYU. I will never forget the warmth and love they showed to me. Uncle Dick was like my second father since my dad, his brother, died at age 65, In fact, I often thought of him as my father. We talked many times on the phone and that is where I learned so much about his growing up in the Colonies. He had many stories and he would always leave me laughing! He also would keep me up to date on my cousins! I loved him dearly and will miss him tremendously!