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 Bernice <I>Hilburn</I> Turner

Bernice Hilburn Turner

Black Rock, Lawrence County, Arkansas, USA
Death 16 Aug 2013 (aged 86)
Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 117083981 · View Source
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Bernice Hilburn Turner, age 86, of Nashville, TN, died Friday, August 16, 2013. Mrs. Turner was a musician who played rhythm guitar with the late Hank Williams in the 1940's and later ran a successful customized bus business for performers. Memorial services were conducted in Memphis, TN. Arrangements by Bond Memorial Chapel, N. Mt. Juliet Road and Weston Drive, Mt. Juliet, TN (Published online by Bond Funeral Home)

"Strong" is how Robby Turner described his mother, Bernice Hilburn Turner, a musician who played rhythm guitar with the late Hank Williams in the 1940s and later ran a successful customized bus business for performers. Mrs. Turner died Friday in Nashville at 86 after a long illness. "Her strength came from her inner self," said Robby, a noted steel guitar player living in Nashville." She gave others her spirit. When other people were weak or hurting or needing that strength, she could uplift you and give you strength by her words and actions." She also had physical strength, Robby said, recalling the time his mother heard some women talking a little too familiar about Doyle Turner, her husband at the time. "She knocked both of them clean out. She decked both of them." Mrs. Turner lived in Memphis until about 2 1/2 years ago, when Robby took her to live with him in Nashville, where he had long talks with her. "I have four or five hours of audio (of her). I brought her in my studio and talked to her before her mind got bad." She told him, "When I was a kid, I used to dream. Dream big. 'Cause we had nothing...I have done more in my life than I have ever dreamed.' " Mrs. Turner was born in Black Rock, Ark., and ran away at 12 to live with an aunt in Walnut Ridge. She played her guitar outside a restaurant where she worked as a dishwasher. When she was 15, she moved to Panama City, Fla., to sing with a country band. She met Doyle Turner in the band and they married in 1944. They traveled around Florida with a band led by guitarist Jimmy Bryant. Hank Williams then hired Doyle as steel guitar player and Mrs. Turner as rhythm guitarist for his band, Hank Williams and the Drifting Cowboys. Mrs. Turner played rhythm guitar with the band from early 1945 to December 1946 with Williams and his band. In a 2000 interview with The Commercial Appeal, Mrs. Turner said she performed some of the Williams' hits before they were recorded. "I thank God for the privilege of being there with Hank," she said. "When he was sober, he had this inferiority complex. But when he started drinking, there was no stopping him. He'd go until he passed out." The Turners left Williams after Doyle was drafted. After he completed his service, they moved to Blytheville, Ark. and led their own band, Doyle Turner & the Famous National Hillbillies. When Robby, one of their five children, joined Ace Cannon's band as a steel guitar player at age 14, Doyle and Mrs. Turner bought a GMC4104 bus for the group and Doyle became the bus driver. They eventually opened Silver Eagle Bus Service, a fleet of seven customized buses they leased to stars. The Turners later divorced and Doyle died in 1991. In addition to Robby, Mrs. Turner leaves a daughter, Marie 'P.J.' Turner in Pensacola, Fla.; and a brother, David Hilburn, in Blytheville. A memorial service is being planned to be held in Memphis in about four weeks, Robby said. (Published in The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN, on August 21, 2013)

Predeceased by daughter Jill Turner,
son Danny Turner and granddaughter
Christi Turner Ducas.

Family Members



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  • Created by: Carole McCaig
  • Added: 15 Sep 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 117083981
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Bernice Hilburn Turner (13 Jan 1927–16 Aug 2013), Find A Grave Memorial no. 117083981, ; Maintained by Carole McCaig (contributor 46785778) Unknown.