Pittsburgh says farewell to Bernadette Turner

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As a woman with a vision for a better community, Bernadette C. Turner worked diligently and whole-heartedly at achieving that very goal. She made sure that whatever she did had a positive impact on her community and the people within it. Her journey ended on Dec. 26 after a long battle with hodgkins lymphoma. Turner was 42.

Turner, a resident of Lincoln-Lemington, is survived by her husband Sean Turner, her two children Citara Turner and Sean Turner Jr. Along with many other family and friends.

“Bernadette was an true ‘advocate for the people.’ The voice for those that needed to be heard and the hand when you needed help. She left us an example on how it is to strive forward in our personal goals and reach back to encourage others to dream,” Anthony Jackson, director of the Neighborhood Youth Outreach Program of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, wrote in the condolences section of Turner’s obituary on the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s website. “Lord thank you for your wonderful servant BERNADETTE. How blessed we are to have known her for a season.”

Turner was the immediate past executive director of the Addison Behavioral Care Inc. and the co-founder of the African American Leadership Association, an organization committed to supporting minority professionals. She also worked with the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP), the Coalition Against Violence and was an advisory chair of the Regional Equity Mentoring Project.

Tim Stevens, chairman of B-PEP and a friend, said he was shocked when he received notice of Turner’s death.

“This was a death that shocked a lot of people. There are few calls that you expect to receive and this was one of them. Bernadette was one of the emerging African-American leaders of the Greater Pittsburgh region. I was honored and proud to know her and the community has lost a young champion. She was a shinning light to the African-American community and the community at large, and I will miss her.”

Stevens continued to say that he was always amazed at the wisdom Turner embodied at such a young age. “You don’t encounter that everyday,” he said.

Among Turner’s many earned honors, she was a 2010 recipient of the New Pittsburgh Courier’s Fab 40 Under 40 honor. Ryan Patrick Parker, a friend and 2010 Fab 40 recipient, posted this on Facebook, “Wings for Christmas…Today, a diamond became an angel. You will be missed, Bernadette “Bernie” Turner. For those who weren’t blessed to know this one, you missed a treat…She was a trusted friend and confidant—that is hard to find these days…. Life is too short… This one, I’m struggle with… So young, vibrant, and full of life. But, God, you know best. Please keep her young family lifted in prayer. And, Bernie, YOU were the fabulous one… #Heartbroken #RememberingBernie #aDiamond #WingsForChristmas”

Turner’s homegoing service took place on Dec. 30 at Sanctuary of Praise Church, 7801 Kelly St., in Homewood, under the direction of Coston’s Funeral Home Inc. Donations to Turner’s legacy can be made to the POISE Foundation: POISE Foundation c/o AALA “Bernadette Turner,” Two Gateway Center, Suite 1700, 603 Stanwix St., Pittsburgh, Pa., 15222.

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