Grace Turner, 71, helped foster children, providers

February 20, 2005|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Funeral services have been held for Grace Turner, who worked to make a better life for the state's foster children and those who provided care for them.

Mrs. Turner, who was 71, died of a blood clot Feb. 7 at her Randallstown home. Services were held Monday in Randallstown.

"There are thousands of foster kids in Maryland today whose lives are better off as a result of Grace building a strong network of programs to serve them," said Kevin M. Keegan, executive director of New Pathways Inc., a Baltimore foster care program.

Jim McComb, executive director of the Maryland Association of Resources for Families and Youth, described Mrs. Turner as a "gentle lady" who had an "underlying toughness for getting the job done."

Grace Edmundson was born in Virginia and raised in Salisbury. After earning a bachelor's degree in 1955 from Bowie State College, she taught in Baltimore public schools until 1959. Three years later, she changed careers and took a job in the Baltimore City Department of Social Services where she rose from caseworker to administrator of child welfare programs.

Mrs. Turner earned a master's degree in social work in 1980 from the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Since 1994, she had been at the state Department of Human Resources where she was in charge of licensing and monitoring 198 group homes in Maryland.

"Grace was a solid giant who made us believe that there was hope for these kids," said Hattie Washington, founder of Aunt Hattie's Place, a shelter for abused young boys. "She used to say, `Whatever you need to save those kids, call me, and we'll get it done.' We can't let her legacy die. We have to do her work and make sure that it continues."

Mrs. Turner was married for 40 years to Francis DeSales Turner, who had been head of the math department at Holabird Middle School. He died in 1996.

She is survived by a son, Andrew DeSales Turner of Baltimore; two daughters, Anita Turner Wilkins and Denise Elizabeth Turner, both of Randallstown; a half-brother, Leroy Nichols of Salisbury; three half-sisters, Susie Daishells, Carolyn Birckhead and Marion Parker, all of Salisbury; two granddaughters; and a great-grandson.

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