Kathryn Gurley Turner loves her community; and feels honored to be named as this year’s Grand Marshal of the Patriot 4th of July Parade, being held this Tuesday.
“I hope that I bring honor to my town,” she said. “I was born on Goose Creek in 1934; and then my parents moved to Pleasant for a few years; and then we moved close to Moorefield; and then on to Mount Sterling. My mother passed away there when I was 10; and daddy brought us back to Patriot in 1944. I’ve lived here ever since.”
Kathryn was in the fourth grade when she moved back to Patriot; and from there went to Patriot Schools, graduating from Patriot High School in 1952.
While in high school she met George Gurley, whose family also lived in Patriot for his entire life — and he was the man whom she would marry.
“He lost his eyesight in the Korean War,” Kathryn said softly. “He went to Korea and we were engaged. When he came back, he had lost his eyesight. We got married and had a house built on Third Street in town. A house came up for Sheriff’s Sale and he was there, and his dad and brother-in-law was helping him bid on it; and so we got the place and tore the old place and built a new one. It was ready to move into when I graduated in 1952. We got married in June of 1952.”
Kathryn said that after he returned from the service, George trained as a woodworker at a Veterans Training Center in Chicago; learning how to run saws and wood carvers and other types of machines. He then came home and opened a shop in downtown Patriot.
“Later on he added a gift shop and a paint store,” she said. “He sold glass items that he could sell as gifts; and he also sold Dutchboy paint. He also made shelves and electric lamps; and he also made hall trees that he made out of Mahogany wood.”
Kathryn said that the down side of the business was that the wood irritated the wounds on his face that came from the war.
“His face was like a shattered windshield, and infection set up,” Kathryn said. “He had to give up his wood crafts because of that.”
But the end of that career led to a life’s calling, as George entered the ministry, and the couple moved to Clear Creek Baptist School in Pineville, Kentucky for three years; and then to Cumberland College for four years.
The Gurleys then moved back here so that George would be closer to the VA Hospital.
“George did lay ministry here in the county for the Long Run Association,” Kathryn said. “But then he got sick with cancer, and that’s what took him in 1991. We worked in church work for many years. Later we went to Bethel Unity Church; and now I’m a member at First Baptist in Rising Sun.”
Later, Kathryn married Billy Don Turner in 1996 when she was working at Plastic Moldings Corporation in East Enterprise. The couple did a lot of traveling all over the country – including traveling to the Holy Land in 2009; enjoying nearly 20 years together before he passed away in 2015.
Kathryn loves her large family, which includes daughter Betty Hutchinson, who lives next door; daughter Rhonda, who lives with her; daughter Kay Sawyers, who lives in Evarts, Kentucky; and son James Michael Gurley, who lives on Antioch Hill. Her son, Timothy Joe, passed away in a barge accident in 1981.
Add to that, 12 grandchildren; more than 20 great grandchildren; and eight great-great grandchildren, and Kathryn has a full house.
Kathryn serves the church as the Mission Director at her church; which involves specific mission projects through the Southern Baptist Convention; as well as state mission programs and local outreach programs.
In Patriot, Kathryn served as the President of the Posey Tappers Homemakers Club on several occasions; and also worked with young people years ago when she attended Patriot Baptist Church. She also was on the board of Swiss Friends of Animals, the precurser to the Switzerland County Animal Shelter; and she also served as President of the American Legion Auxiliary when there was a chapter in Patriot.
Additionally, Kathryn was an original member of the Switzerland County Life Squad, which started in Patriot before spreading to other parts of the county.
And now, after years of service to the Patriot community; she has been honored as this year’s Grand Marshal.
“It’s quite an honor,” Kathryn said. “I think it was nice that they asked me. I’m happy about it. I’ve tried to serve in my community; and I try to be their for people if they need me.”