Allen Turner, who covered local government as a staff writer for The News Reporter, died Saturday after complications from COPD and metastatic cancer.
Turner, 71, continued to work part-time in the latter stages of his career despite being on oxygen full-time and dealing with a difficult cancer diagnosis.
Turner’s recent beats included the Columbus County Board of Commissioners, Whiteville City Council, Chadbourn Town Council and Fair Bluff Board of Commissioners.
The North Carolina Press Association bestowed Turner with the prestigious Henry Lee Weathers Freedom of Information Award in February 2020 for a series of stories he wrote in 2019 about how county government didn’t provide adequate minutes of closed sessions as required by the North Carolina Open Meetings Law.
“Allen spent several years working in government and as the town clerk of Fair Bluff, which made him a natural fit to become a reporter late in his career,” said Publisher Les High. “He well understood the finer points of budgets and the politics behind many decisions. It was this insight and attention to detail that made him an excellent reporter. Additionally, his dedication to his job despite suffering from serious health issues was an inspiration to us all.”
A member of the West Columbus High School Class of 1967, Turner’s early career included serving as news director and disc jockey at WWKO in Fair Bluff and editor at The Loris Sentinel. After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UNC Pembroke in 1983, he was employed as a social worker and case manager in Lumberton and Raleigh. He moved to Chicago, where he worked as program coordinator at the National Accreditation Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences. Turner returned to his home state and served as town clerk and finance officer for the Town of Fair Bluff from 2002 until 2011, when he joined The News Reporter.