WEST JEFFERSON — Buster “Frank” Turnmire will celebrate his 100th birthday on April 16. Turnmire is currently a resident at Ashe Assisted living where he enjoys having visitors and recounting stories about his life with friends.
Turnmire was born on April 16, 1920, in Ashe County to Alice and Rufus Turnmire of West Jefferson. He had two siblings who are both deceased, a sister, Myrtle Mae Turnmire Miller and a brother, Acey Turnmire.
Turnmire was born and raised in Ashe County, where he has resided his whole life. He grew up during the Great Depression, which taught him at a young age to be conservative and also taught him about the value of being flexible, creative and working hard. These are all values which he has always carried with him throughout life.
He attended West Jefferson school and was married to Dorothy Glea Swinney Turnmire for 62 years. Together the couple had three children, Ronald Turnmire of West Jefferson, Ruth Herold of Hudson and Barbara Revis of Lansing.
Revis provided some insight about her father and his long life spent serving others.
He worked for the town of West Jefferson for 42 years, retiring at age 65. The work entailed doing whatever needed to be done, working on the streets, repairing and putting in new water lines, taking care of the wells that supplied the town’s water supply or pushing snow to clear the streets.
Revis recalls her father telling the story about the 1960 snow often. He slept in the theater at night and worked pushing snow all day for weeks until he was finally able to get home on a bulldozer to clear his own road and bring groceries to his family.
After retiring, Turnmire did not quit working. He worked in landscaping, gardening and continued to work from his workshop. His favorite activity has always been cutting firewood, and he was always known to have more than a winter’s worth of supply on hand at one time.
According to Revis, her father refinished and restored antique furniture long before it was the fashionable thing to do. Revis said he would go to auction sales and buy old furniture, occasionally carrying it out in pieces, before putting the pieces back together and refinishing them. He would then resell them to make extra money for his family. Revis said Turnmire also performed custom metal and mechanic work out of his workshop.
“If someone needed something built, no matter the material, wood or metal, Frank could make it from scratch,” Revis said speaking about her father’s hobbies including farming and cutting firewood.
“Cutting firewood is by far his favorite hobby,” Revis said.
Ashe Assisted Living’s Food Service Manager Joy Houck said Turnmire has sat at the entrance of their facilities almost every day since he became a resident.
“Staff, families and visitors alike have enjoyed his greetings and smiles. He is always kind to everyone, but his smile is infectious,” Houck said.
Houck said Turnmire laughs frequently and enjoys reading magazines. He also has a sharp mind and quick wit.
“I love Frank and believe he has been and hope he continues to be a great asset to our community,” Houck said.