Manassas Journal Messenger | Haymarket remembers Sarah Turner

The Haymarket Historical Commission will meet this Saturday to discuss how the town should honor its past first chairman and long-time historian Sarah M. Turner. Eighty-three year old Turner died Sept. 10.

“It’s a possibility we may agree to put up a plaque or memorial stone with her brief history somewhere near the Haymarket Museum. I know we will do something,” said Michelle Neal-Heard, commission chairwoman.

Neal-Heard said she has been a good friend of Turner since the two met in 1994 when Neal-Heard was in Haymarket looking to buy a house.

“Through the years it was always a joy to talk to her about the history of Haymarket and her plans to preserve the town’s history while looking to improve the town’s future,” Neal-Heard said. “We are all going to miss her. She was liked and loved by just about anyone who knew her.”

Turner was the chairman of the commission from the time it was formed in 1991 until 1998.

“Not only was Turner well-known locally, but also statewide. She was always meeting with state and national officials, including the governors and congressmen, to get grants to improve the town,” said Neal-Heard, who has served as the commission chairwoman for the past four years.

Turner was born Jan. 10, 1921, in Arcadia, Fla., to the late Capt. Corley P. and Mary Sue McDarment and was an only child.

She was married twice, first to Guy B. Shepherd IV who she divorced in 1945 and then in 1960 to William Fitzhugh Turner who preceded her in death in the late 1980s.

Survivors include two sons, Guy B. Shepard V of Pahoa, Hawaii, and James T. Shepard of Haymarket; and two grandchildren.

“Being married to a diplomat, she traveled around the world and really loved it, with Vietnam as one of her favorite countries. She was a hard worker throughout her life and put Haymarket on the map as its historian,” Guy Shepard said of his mother.

Shepard said his mother had been ill for the past five years before dying of a brain tumor. Private funeral arrangements were by Lee Funeral Home in Manassas.

“She had come to Hawaii several times to visit with me,” he said.

Turner moved to Haymarket in 1924 and graduated from Haymarket High School. She was a member of the Democratic Party and was active in local Democratic events. Turner was a member of the National Press Club and had been on the staff of Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.

Turner is probably best known for her work with the Historical Commission and the book she played a key role in researching, writing and publishing in 1997-98, “Haymarket: A Town in Transition.”

The 290-page book was a history of the town with many photographs, maps and historic letters, including the role the town played in the Civil War when it was burned down.

She was concerned not only in preserving the town’s history, but in taking care of its future, friends said. In the book, she wrote: “One can see that Haymarket has ebbed and flowed from fame to near extinction. The town is on the edge now of its greatest transformation as it goes over the threshold of the 21st century.”

“We hope people will continue enjoying living in the little village, and will unite in preserving its charm and work toward enhancing this ‘little jewel of a town,’ ” Turner said in the book.

Donations in her memory may be made to the following: Community Hospice of Virginia, 520 North Washington St., Suite 400 Falls Church, VA. 22046; SERVE, Inc., 10056 Dean Dive, Manassas, VA. 20110; or Gainesville District Volunteer Fire Department, 14450 John Marshall Highway, Gainesville, VA. 20155.

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