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Gary Turner was a dynamic and charismatic pastor who went home to be with The Lord on Sunday, September 4, 2005.
 
The 49-year-old Arkadelphia native was in the presence of his wife, Lisa, and their two sons, Matt and Andy, when his two-and-half year battle with leukemia came to an end at UAMS Hospital in Little Rock.
 
After becoming a minister in his early teens, Gary later served as senior pastor at Third Street Baptist Church in Arkadelphia for 25 consecutive years.
 
Gary was a Christ-like man, a dedicated husband, father, and leader to his congregation and community. He was well known for his charisma, knowledge, humor and willingness to help people from all walks of life. God used those qualities to help Third Street become one of the fastest growing churches in Arkansas and established Gary as one of the most beloved ministers in the area.
 
Less than 48 hours before Gary took his final breath, he asked his family to record a message for members of Third Street Baptist Church.
 
Gary managed to remove his oxygen mask long enough to speak the following words:
 
“To the greatest church that God ever gave a preacher, Third Street Baptist Church: There is no church in history that I know of that would do what this church has done for me. I don’t deserve it, but I’m glad they’re doing it.
 
I know that Job Chapter Five says that God will preserve our every way. If it’s the fiery darts of the battlefield, or going out like this, to suffocate one breath at a time, that’s irrelevant. How you go is not important, it’s where you go.
 
You don’t have to be a Methodist, or a Baptist, or a Presbyterian, or any other group to get to heaven. God showed you, you don’t have to have the right color, you don’t have to have the right amount of money -- you just have to love Him.
 
And I love you.
 
And God bless you. And stick to the word of God. Don’t fight. Don’t air your dirty laundry. Don’t fight. There’s a better way.” 
 
 
Gary Turner’s list of accomplishments and honors are countless, but he most recently received the Adam Blakely award, the Arkadelphia Chamber of Commerce President’s award, and was named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International. He served the community in various ways, belonging to numerous boards and committees.
 
Turner was the past president of the Arkadelphia School Board, the Clark County American Heart Association, and Woodmen of the World Lodge 233. He also served on the executive board for the Red River Baptist Association, the executive board for Courage House, the board of directors for Hospitality Care Center, the board of directors for Arkadelphia Little League, chairman of the board for the Clark County Christmas Store, chairman of the board for Brushy Creek Campground and chairman of the board for Arkadelphia Kids’ Club. He was a member of the Ecumenical Disaster Committee, a member of the Human Rights Committee for the Arkadelphia Human Development Center, and Chaplain for the Clark County Sheriff’s department and Arkadelphia Police department.
 
His list of duties also included: officiating a large number of funerals and weddings, visiting hospitals, and counseling families through difficult times. But despite his obligations, Gary always found plenty of time for his wife and children, who he adored.