unice Turner, who went on to become a distinguished psychiatric nurse, administrator, and advocate for nursing causes, was born in 1936, the fifth of eight children of black sharecroppers John and Esther Turner in Catawba County, North Carolina.
From childhood, Eunice had a fervent desire to leave the poverty and deprivation of Catawba County. That ambition showed in her appetite for reading.
Eunice would get books from school and read them all by the time she got home," her brother Richmond said. Catawba County was also served by a bookmobile, and Eunice was its "chief customer."
With her high grades and determination. Eunice was awarded several state scholarships. She was among the first class of nursing students at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College, when nursing was introduced as a major there.
"She chose nursing because she knew it was a profession she could do anywhere, "She wanted to go to the places and do the things that she'd read about."
New York, Here I Come!
One of Eunice's scholarships required her to work in North Carolina for a year after her graduation in 1959. But while she worked in Chapel Hill, she spent her free time applying for jobs in New York. And as soon as her year was up, she left to work at the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic of New York Hospital.
Turner's love of learning only strengthened in her adopted state. She earned master's degrees both in nursing and in education. Her duties at Payne Whitney increased, too; she rose to assistant director of nursing there, and did a stint as acting director.
Margaret Fisher, now a nurse manager at the department of behavioral health, (still commonly called the Payne Whitney Clinic) of New York Hospital, worked for Eunice.
“When I came to Payne Whitney in 1967. Eunice was already the evening supervisor there," Fisher said. "She was wonderful to work for. Everyone respected her, and she was always very calm, classy, and articulate, even when dealing with tough personnel problems. She could settle any kind of conflict and leave everyone feeling they had been treated fairly. We all loved her."