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Former Advertiser labor reporter Chuck Turner dies at 88

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After serving in the Army, where he experienced the invasion of Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of concentration camps in Czech territory, Chuck Turner needed new adventures.

He found them ultimately as the labor reporter for The Honolulu Advertiser, where for some 20 years he won the trust and respect of Big Five executives and now-legendary labor union leaders alike for his fair and objective coverage.

Charles Henry Turner died March 30 in Honolulu. He was 88.

Turner covered several beats before finding a home as The Advertiser’s labor writer. A union supporter, Turner helped found the Hawaii Newspaper Guild unit in his own newsroom in the 1960s, said Gerry Keir, longtime Advertiser editor.

“On the job, he was dedicated to fairness and objectivity,” Keir added. “As a result, he was trusted by executives of the Big Five and other major employers as well as labor leaders such as Jack Hall, Harry Bridges, David Trask and Art Rutledge.”

The labor beat was “high octane” during Turner’s years, Keir said.

“Whether during emotional, late-night negotiations or amid strikes that shut down the docks, the bus system, the schools or government operations, both sides could count on a fair shake in a Chuck Turner news story.”

Turner also served as The New York Times’ Hawaii correspondent for many years.

When Turner retired in 1985, the late columnist Bob Krauss called his friend a man who demonstrated “quiet respectability” on the job but also had a fun side, who impressed colleagues with his ability to make wine and cook Mexican and Basque dishes.

After his retirement from the newspaper, Turner worked at the East-West Center.

Born in Paris Crossing, Ind., Turner also spent childhood years in Flagstaff, Ariz., and Eureka, Calif., where he graduated from high school in 1942.

Shortly thereafter, he joined the Army and became part of the 94th Infantry Division, which took him to Normandy shortly after D-Day, said Keir. For a while, Turner flew over German lines in a tiny plane as an artillery spotter.

Later, he was wounded in the snow during the Battle of the Bulge, and he finished the war near liberated concentration camps in Czech territory, Keir said.

He earned Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, the Air Medal and other decorations for his actions in the European Theater.

Returning to the U.S., he studied at Arizona State University and then the University of Missouri’s school of journalism.

After several years working for United Press International in Phoenix, Boise, Idaho, and Helena, Mont., Turner went to work for The Advertiser in 1953 for $27.50 a week.

Friends may call from 10 a.m. Thursday at Central Union Church’s Atherton Chapel, where a service will begin at 11. Burial will follow at Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery at 2 p.m. The family asks that donations be made in Turner’s memory to the Purple Heart Welfare Fund.

 

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