A person who influenced my life: Linda Hayter Turner

I'll always remember the FIRST day of my fourth grade year. I was going to a brand new school--because the districts had been re-zoned. I had spent my first three years at Riverton Junior High School (which also included the elementary grades at the time). Now, thanks to the powers-that-be, I would be an incoming fourth-grader at Brownsboro Junior High School.

I can remember walking to the very end of the hallway...where the fourth grade was, and seeing one of the most beautiful ladies I had ever seen. Her name was Linda Turner...

This was going to be a great, great school year! (And almost forty years later, I still say that she was the BEST teacher I've ever had in my educational process).

She was wearing a beautiful pink dress, had blond hair, and it was pulled back in a pony-tail. She was wearing white sandals that late summer day in Brownsboro. She had the kindest voice...and I'll always remember her smile, when I marched up to the door and was looking for my name on the list. I told her, "I am Phillip Hoover and I'm in the fourth grade this year." She said, "Yes, Mr. Hoover, you are...and you are in my class! I am so excited to see you! It is going to be a great year!"

And indeed it was!

I learned so many things that year: I learned about fractions, and multiplications (it's not Linda's fault, but I still have mental/emotional blocks when it comes to mathematics). I learned about Helen Keller in Alabama History (which Mrs Turner made extremely fascinating--especially since she grew up in East Tennessee!). She always had spelling bees (and I almost always won! I really liked that part), and she read "Charlotte's Web" to us....probably the most fascinating story I had ever heard.

I remember getting paddled a couple of times by this teacher. My very selective memory can't recall if I was truly deserving or not.....Linda is one of my Facebook friends, and she is free to insert her version of those episodes should she so choose....

I'll always remember her mom and dad (Mr. and Mrs Hayter) coming to visit our fourth grade class....I thought they were the most fascinating and wonderful people I had ever met. They were from TENNESSEE---to this boy who had never been out of Alabama, this was a whole new country!

And one of the saddest days was when I was finishing the fourth grade, and would be going to the fifth grade--just down the hall! Mr Sibley was good...but he wasn't Mrs Turner....

The years went by, and we lost contact with each other...until I was getting ready to graduate from high school. Linda and her family had lived in Europe (because of her husband's work with the government), and then returned to the Huntsville area. Linda came to my high school graduation, with her two youngest sons (Matthew and Mark) in tow. I was THRILLED to see her. She wrote a letter of recommendation so I could get into college...she gave me a wonderful gift for graduation (money which was badly needed)....

A few years later, our paths would cross again...and now I was active duty in the United States Air Force, and stationed in California. She would write me occasionally (this was before email and text messages, and Al Gore's discovery of the internet...), and I always thrilled at hearing from her...

I will remember when I was preparing to move to South Korea in January 1990. I still have the letter she had written me, instructing me to "soak up as much of the culture and richness of the people as you possible can. You will be a better person for it." I was smart enough to follow her advice.

I was getting ready to move from South Korea to Norway, and needed someone (stateside) to book a hotel room in New York City for me (on New Year's Day, 1991 at that!) since I had an 18 hour layover...I wrote Linda a letter, telling her my plight...and she took care of the details for me...

And when I had to make a swift trip to the United States at the end of May 1992, it was Linda Turner who came to the funeral home and stayed with me the entire evening. As a matter of fact, she and I were the first two at the viewing of my Grandmother Hoover's body....and I've never been happier to see anyone in my entire life! Linda was one of those "moms" that I had always wanted....and like all those other times, she came through for me!

Over the last 20 years (or more) we've stayed in good contact. She has been my prayer partner and strong encourager during more than one "down time" of my life. She still challenges me to be my "best" at whatever I'm wanting to "take on."

She is a great wife, a wonderful mother, and a doting grandmother---there are plenty of exhibits to verify these assessments.

But to me, this fourth grader from so long in a new school--she is my hero! She made classes fun, and I learned a lot.

Everyone needs a "Linda Turner" in their life....but you can't have mine!

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