Joseph Turner died in Victoria in 2002, at age 59. Now, his estranged children are searching for answers and closure. (Courtesy of Sherry Turner)

Joseph Turner died in Victoria in 2002, at age 59. Now, his estranged children are searching for answers and closure. (Courtesy of Sherry Turner)

Victoria woman seeks answers about estranged father

Sherry Turner last saw her father nearly 40 years ago

When Sherry Turner moved to Victoria in 2005, a small part of her was hoping she might find her father who she hadn’t seen in more than 20 years.

Joseph “Joe” Turner was an alcoholic and walked out on Sherry, her mother and her two brothers at their Oshawa, Ont. home when she was only in Grade 2.

“From then on we wouldn’t see him for years at a time,” said Sherry.

Joe remarried and had a new daughter but left them too. Then, when Sherry was 19 her grandmother – Joe’s mother – died and the last she heard was that her father had moved to Victoria.

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“I just felt abandonment,” Sherry said.

Now, at 57 years old, she doesn’t remember much about her father, except that her parents were always butting heads and that “he was a great man when he was sober.”

Her older brother, Michael Turner, who often suffered the brunt of their father’s alcoholism, remembers a bit more.

“I remember all the bad stuff,” he said. “He was the most evil person you could see on alcohol and the nicest guy you could ever know when he wasn’t.”

Despite it all, Sherry wanted to know what had happened to her father and wondered if maybe he had managed to get sober. She searched for any clues of him on and off for years but turned up nothing.

Then, about a month ago, it occurred to Sherry that she should check for a death certificate. Joe died in Victoria in 2002 – just three years before Sherry arrived – at the age of 59.

READ ALSO: COSTS OF ALCOHOL: Alcoholism as disease up for debate but no denying society pays heavy price

“I just wish I would have known him a lot more. I wish I could have helped him,” Sherry said.

Working in the health care sector, she said she sees all kinds of life and that no one lasts long if they have no one to care for them.

“I wonder if he suffered or if he died alone. I just want some closure,” she said.

She has requested his medical records to see how he died and where he was buried, but it’s a long process as she doesn’t know who her father would have listed as next of kin and COVID-19 has slowed down the medical system.

While she waits, Sherry has taken to posting on local social media groups to see if anyone knows anything about Joe. “Even to find his gravesite would be good, because then I could put a plaque there.”

Anyone with information can reach out to Sherry at Turnersherry5@gmail.com.


Do you have a story tip? Email: jane.skrypnek@blackpress.ca.

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