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Helen Turner

TURNER, HELEN ELIZABETH WESSELS THOMAS, 89, born February 22, 1931, in Durban, South Africa, died November 28, 2020, in Sonora, CA. She was member of the Fletcher Church. Helen served alongside her husband, Don Thomas, in various mission capacities (secretary, bookkeeper, teacher) for the Adventist denomination, including in Central Africa, South Africa and West Africa. Helen was preceded in death by her husband, Don Thomas, in 2003; second husband, James Turner, in 2018; her daughter, Margaret Thomas, in 1956, at the age of 3; daughter, Marilyn, in 1978, at the age of 18; and all her siblings. Her family lived in Johannesburg, South Africa, during the great depression. After completing grade 10 in Johannesburg, Helen joined her sister at Helderberg College, near Cape Town. She graduated with a commercial diploma and went to the Belgium Congo to serve as a missionary for 18 months. She married Don Thomas in 1951. After their wedding both Don and Helen went to the Belgium Congo. Over the next 43 years Helen and Don served at serval mission locations in Central Africa and Zimbabwe, South Africa and West Africa. In 1994, Don and Helen moved to the United States. Instead of retiring they served the Safford and Wilcox congregations in Arizona for six years. There Helen worked as a medical transcriptionist and worked for an insurance company. Don accepted an appointment to serve two congregations in Georgia for two years. After Don passed away in 2003, Helen volunteered at a hospital and community service center in Greenville, TN. She went to Tanzania on a short-term mission trip and preached every night. She also went on mission trips to Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Helen spoke five languages, and during her adult life she lived in 37 different homes in six countries. After eight years as a widow, at the age of 80 she married James Turner. After two years on James’ farm, they retired to an apartment at Fletcher Park Inn. James fell ill and Helen cared for him for five years. After moving to an assisted living facility in Georgia, James passed away in 2018. Helen moved to an assisted living facility in Sonora, CA, near family. Helen is survived by her daughter, Charlene Masson (Andy); her son, Robert Thomas (Sherry), four grandchildren; and great grandchild, Lilly Thomas.


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