Bill and Carolyn Turney are a happy couple who have a long association with Christ Church Cathedral. Bill was born in Fredericton, and grew up at 829 George Street. He was baptized at the Cathedral by Dean Holmes and even remembers the funeral of Bishop Richardson, and how the steeple bells tolled. Bill was only 6 years old then. He said it was an impressive sight.
After a test by the School Board Chairman, he was “banished” to Halifax to the School for the Blind! It was a very difficult three years for him – homesick, ill with rheumatic fever, and other maladies. In spite of this rocky start to education, Bill has never let his lack of sight deter him from accomplishments beyond all expectations. Thanks to the intervention of Dean Gray, and Dr. Ross Wright, Bill was accepted into Rothesay Collegiate School in Grade 4, still unable to read. This amazing man went on to participate in all the activities (he was manager of sports teams in which he could not fully participate due to his vision problems), played in the band and sang in the choir. While a choir boy at the Cathedral, he was paid three cents for each rehearsal attended and two cents for each service sung! He went on to graduate, to attend Mound Allison University, the University of Toronto, Royal Conservatory of Music, with a Bachelor’s degree in Education, and LRCT and ARCT in Music Education and Performance!
Bill attended the first Diocesan School of Church Music (Choir Camp) held in Rothesay in 1958, with Gerald Wheeler as clinician. Bill was his assistant, and has attended many years since, including this year, the 60th anniversary. The final Evensong was at Christ Church Cathedral on Sunday, July 9, at 3:30 pm.
Bill began his ‘career’ with Boy Scouts at RCS, and he has very high praise for all the assistance and direction he received there. In 1959, He took the Canadian Scouters’ Training in Guelph, and later the Gilwell, in Toronto, and became Commissioner of Scouts for Carleton County during the 1960’s. He has attended many Jamborees all over Canada and the USA. He has co-authored a book of Boy Scout Songs. In an overheard conversation at the Boy Scout Store in Fredericton North, one individual asked another what was the highlight of his scouting career. The other answered without hesitation – it was when Bill Turney sang ‘THE LORD’S PRAYER on a cliff overlooking a lake at a camp. (Bill had no knowledge that it had made such an impression until today.)
Woodstock High School was fortunate to have him as a music educator for 10 years, followed by 10 years as Music Professor at Ricker College in Houlton, Maine, during which time he was also director of church choirs in the Anglican Parish of Woodstock.
In Woodstock Bill met his wife, Carolyn. She was a student of his! She was active in theatre, Glee Club, band, etc. Her Mother, who was a nurse, was said to have “served Carolyn up to Bill on a platter”! In any case, they were married soon after her graduation, just after Christmas in 1959, and have been together ever since! They are proud of their four children, three girls – one adopted – and one boy. They in turn, have given them four grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Carolyn attended Teachers’ College and taught for two years until demands of her young family caused her to ‘retire’. Not really! Carolyn has had many careers – as a Mother, an actress with Theatre NB, as an administrator – for Theatre NB, ten years with the Alzheimers Society and recently retired from St. Anne’s Lodge. While a faculty wife, when Bill was at Ricker College, Carolyn studied Spanish, Arabic, and French, and received a degree in Theatre, with a minor in languages.
Together, they are very active in their community. They wrote many supplements in both the TELEGRAPH JOURNAL and THE DAILY GLEANER for specific areas, such as Woodstock, Grand Falls, Edmundston, Tobique and Hartland. These supplements were stuffed in the regular daily papers. This enabled them to visit many fairs, concerts, and special events. Their reviews were anxiously awaited by readers, and are missed by many today.
Carolyn and Bill were leaders in the Young Voyageur program, which was in honour of Canada’s Centennial. They were sometimes called Centennial Travellers. They went to Melville, Saskatchewan in 1966, Ladner, BC in 1967 and Calgary Alberta in 1968. Each year they took 24 students from across the province in trips by train where they spent a full week billeted in the homes of other grade 11 students from those areas.
In the seventies, Bill was president of the NB Youth Orchestra, and Carolyn was their secretary. Bill traveled with them to Aberdeen Scotland for a World Youth Orchestra event, as a scribe for the TELEGRAPH JOURNAL.
When Don Noseworthy was Dean, Bill directed the Treble Choir at the Cathedral. He had quite a large group of interested youth.
For eight years, Carolyn coordinated the mailing the Cathedral sent out for special occasions. Bill often helps with the monthly Cathedral Saturday breakfasts, as dish washer, and Carolyn helps at the door. Bill is very active with the Canada Trail Coalition, and directs a choir in the Golden Club. Carolyn is a fantastic cook and is famous for her banana bread! (One should add cranberry muffins to the list!)
Both Carolyn and Bill have sung in the Cathedral Choir for many years. Unfortunately, Carolyn has had to redefine her life since she was diagnosed with Idiopathic subglottis stenosis in 2002. Just in time, she had surgery in Toronto to correct this and her surgeon told her that her airway had been obstructed so that it was the diameter of a pin! She returned to Fredericton with a tracheotomy in place – since removed – and as a result, has had to work to regain her voice. With speech therapy and determination, she now speaks clearly, with just a little hoarseness. She has helped to establish a help group online for those with a similar diagnosis. Plagued with arthritis, she has had two knee replacements and fusion of several finger joints but still keeps very busy.
In spite of all their challenges, one rarely sees a couple more cheerful, and active helping others. When asked what ‘words of wisdom’ they would give, they did not hesitate to impress how important it is to NOT take things for granted. Both Bill and Carolyn are outgoing and friendly and have a wealth of fantastic anecdotes to tell about Fredericton and the Cathedral.