Bea Turner grew up in the village of Mendocino with a silver spoon in her mouth, until the Great Depression plucked it out.
Her hardworking family had recovered financially when she happened to meet a Marine who’d been wounded in the Korean War and was treated to a restorative visit to the Mendocino coast. They married in 1952 and fell more in love through the following 64 years.
Just over a year ago, Stanley Turner perished when a raging fire broke out at the couple’s Santa Rosa home. Bea Turner’s broken heart hadn’t healed when she died June 17 at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. She was 89.
“She was just brutally dedicated to my father,” said son Alan Turner of Santa Rosa. “And vice-versa, by the way.”
For decades, Bea and Stan Turner were stalwarts of local military veterans organizations and endeavors. Especially important to Bea Turner were the regular flea markets that the honor society Forty & Eight produce to raise scholarship dollars for nursing students at Santa Rosa Junior College, and the American Legion Auxiliary initiative that sends teens to the summer leadership program, Girls State.
The former Beatrice Lucile Freathy was born in Mendocino in 1928. Her father, Clarence Freathy, was successful in the logging trade and as an investor. One of Bea Freathy’s grandmothers, Kate Anderson, was the village’s midwife.
Young Bea and her parents occupied a fine house in town. “Then the crash came and they lost everything,” said Alan Turner. “She went from beautiful hardwood floors and everything to the dirt floors of a logging camp.”
As with many children of the Great Depression, the Freathys’ daughter learned from hard times to be resourceful, self-sufficient and frugal. Alan Turner said his mom saved every little thing, “just in case she would ever need it.”
Despite the hardships she endured as a child, the future Bea Turner spoke of the marvels of growing up and moving freely through the natural wonders of western Mendocino County. She would tell that throughout the 1930s, kids like herself could go anywhere at any time of day without an ounce of fear.
Then came Imperial Japan’s 1941 attack on U.S. forces in and near Pearl Harbor, and America’s entry into World War II. Life on the coast was militarized; residents watched constantly for signs of invasion.
Alan Turner recalls his mother telling him that with the start of the war, the sense of safety she and the other Mendocino kids knew went away, “and it never returned.”
Beatrice Freathy graduated from Mendocino High School shortly before the war ended in 1945. She went to work for a lumber company.
The Korean War began in mid-1950, and not long afterward, a young Marine who’d grown up in Denver, Stanley Ashur Turner Jr., was badly injured by a grenade blast. He was recovering in Oakland when he signed up for a bus trip up to Mendocino.
Alan Turner said he’s never been sure which happened first: “He fell in love with the redwoods, or he fell in love with my mom.”
Stan Turner had healed sufficiently to return to Colorado when he wrote to Bea Freathy in Mendocino to ask if she’d marry him. Ever practical, said told him to get a job, then get back to her. Stan Turner went to work for the phone company in Denver.