Vice president for college advancement at Ogeechee Technical College, partner with his wife in a local bakery-restaurant and still active in his original field, funeral services, Barry Turner also chairs the Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau board.
Thursday, the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce named him 2016 Business Leader of the Year.
Seated at a luncheon table in the Nessmith-Lane Conference Center ballroom, Turner had surprise on his face as the 2015 honoree, Doug Lambert, recited a description that could apply to only one person.
“I don’t think I could be any more surprised than I am with this,” Turner said when presented the award. “I’m usually the one who writes speeches for other people, and I don’t usually have to make them myself.”
Then he went on to say that he does the things he does because he loves the community and enjoys working with its organizations.
At Thursday’s sold-out, 288-seat luncheon, the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber also saluted Statesboro Cardiology, the practice led by Dr. Stanley Shin, as Small Business of the Year. The chamber’s Committee of the Year plaques went to members of the Health Industry Committee. The luncheon also served as the 95th annual meeting of the chamber, which now has more than 700 members, most of them businesses with a number of employees.
In requesting Business Leader of the Year nominations from members, the chamber asked for nominees who show a commitment to the community and contribute to the advancement of business or Bulloch County’s economy.
“I grew up with a family that was very active in trying to support their community, and I just had that sort of model to follow,” Turner said.
His parents, Preston and Rachel Turner of Nevils, previously owned J.B. Anderson Peanut and Grain Co., a long-established family business. A graduate of Southeast Bulloch High School and of Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service, Barry Turner worked 23 years at the funeral home that became Hodges-Turner Funeral Home when he purchased an interest in it.
After selling his part in the home in 1993, he continued to work there until 2000, the year he joined Ogeechee Tech as founding instructor of its funeral service education program.
Then former OTC President Dr. Dawn Cartee named Turner public relations and marketing director. Vice president for college advancement, his current role, combines community relations and OTC Foundation responsibilities. While on staff at OTC, Turner has attained a bachelor’s degree in business administration from American Intercontinental University and a master’s in organizational management from Ashford University.
He and his wife, Marilyn, own Sugar Magnolia Bakery & Café downtown. The Turners have a son, Brooks Turner; a daughter, Whitney Lavoie; and are grandparents to Ansley and Collier.
After 16 years with the technical college, Turner remains a licensed funeral director and continues to help at Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home.
Besides the CVB board, which he currently chairs, he has been president or chair of the boards of the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority and the Averitt Center for the Arts. He has been president of the Kiwanis Club of Statesboro and has served on boards of the United Way of Bulloch County and of the Chamber of Commerce.
Turner is a past recipient of a Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Award.
He has done volunteer work with the Main Street Farmers’ Market, Celebration South Music Festival, Georgia Special Olympics fall games and the American Diabetes Association, “just to name a few,” Lambert said. In his remarks, he quoted two of Turner’s OTC colleagues.
“There is no person in this room who cares more about Statesboro and Bulloch County, its business and educational communities, and most importantly its people than Barry Turner,” said Statesboro Mayor Jan Moore, now also an OTC vice president. “We are a better place because of Barry.”
“Barry’s dedication to Statesboro and Bulloch County is second to none,” said OTC President Lori Durden.
Chamber Treasurer Elaine Norton presented the Small Business of the Year award, noting that it went to a medical practice that was the first in its specialty in Bulloch County. Dr. Stanley Shin, a cardiologist who attained his doctorate at the University of Maryland’s medical school, came to Statesboro to found the practice 19 years ago.
Now, Statesboro Cardiology has grown to have five practitioners and 25 employees, Norton said. The practice’s new, larger building on Grady Johnson Road is nearing completion.
Chamber President Phyllis Thompson spoke, recounting how Statesboro in April became one of eight national finalists in the America’s Best Communities competition. Judges will review progress on the Blue Mile plan for the revitalization of South Main Street in April 2017, when Statesboro could win a prize of up to $3 million to continue the work.
Thompson also thanked Chamber program and membership managers Piper McAfee and Roxanne Kibler for their work through the year. Thompson, Kibler and McAfee are the Chamber’s paid staff. The chairpersons are elected volunteers representing member businesses.
Outgoing Chamber of Commerce Chair Mark Anderson, part owner of Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home, passed the gavel to incoming Chair Per Holtze, chief operating officer of Georgia Living at Home.
Holtze had the crowd laughing and applauding with his remarks in appreciation of Anderson, an extended cascade of puns on his work as a funeral director.
“Mark had been dying to be the chamber chairman. … He’s no working stiff. … He still finds time to dig into the chamber activities and bury himself in his efforts….,” Holtze said. “But the point is, everybody, Mark can be counted on, because he is the last man to let you down.”
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.