My friend Tman’s real name was Turner. He grew up in Alabama, in a small town named Eutaw. He went to college at the University of Alabama and graduated with a Degree in Civil Engineering. His grades were so high that the University offered him a scholarship for a Master’s degree and he took them up on it. After earning his Master’s in Civil Engineering, his grades were so high that the University offered him a scholarship for a Doctorate, but he decided he wanted to go to work.
He shortly took a job in the Engineering Department at the Texaco Refinery at Port Arthur, Texas. That’s where I met him, over 25 years ago.
I was talking to a friend in his office, when Turner came in and we met. My friend George told Turner he needed a small screwdriver and Turner took one from his pocket and handed it to George. I said, “That’s a Smith and Wesson screw driver”, and he said, “It sure is. Are you a gun nut?” I said I was and we started talking guns and it was the start of a long friendship.
Turner eventually became the Chief Civil Engineer at Texaco Port Arthur Refinery. One of his last projects was to be in charge of building a new Catalytic Dewaxing Unit, a 100+ million dollar project, that he brought in early and under budget. He then retired.
Turner was fascinated about the subject of History.
He was extremely well-read on the subject, and especially enjoyed American History and World Wars I and II.
He knew more about armor than anyone I’ve ever met, and could identify every type of armored vehicle Germany used in WWII.
Going to a military museum with him was an education.
We took a lot of trips to museums over the years. It was something we both enjoyed.
But his real skill was that he was an excellent self-taught gunsmith. He could do as fine of a trigger job on a firearm as anyone I’ve ever seen.
Many of my pistols have trigger jobs that he did on them. They are unbelievably smooth and crisp.
He could build small parts if needed, and make just about any semi-auto feed all rounds fed into it without a hitch.
His accurizing efforts always improved the groups on our C&R rifles. His stock staining skills made our collections look like expensive rifles.
After I retired about 5 years ago, he and I went to the gun range at least twice a week, and sometimes three times. We never tired of reloading ammo and shooting guns. He was one of the few guys I’ve ever shot with that could usually out-shoot me with a pistol and sometimes with a rifle.
But mostly, we talked. Or, as he contended, we argued. He said that we could argue about a subject for an hour, and then switch sides to make it more interesting. His motto was, “Sometimes wrong, but never in doubt.” But to give him credit, he didn’t often argue about a subject that he didn’t know what he was talking about.
When we started doing the Box O’ Truth tests, he enjoyed doing them, but always complained to me about all the trouble it was to do them.
He was a good sport and was always proud if he caught a good picture for the post.
One of his main characteristics was that he did not “suffer fools gladly”.
And when I posted a BOT segment and some guy that didn’t know what he was talking about, started to argue with me about the results, it made Turner so mad he would about explode.
He often told me, “Why do you argue with those idiots! Just quit doing the tests. No one appreciates all the trouble and expense!”
But I always assured him that the vast majority of members were good guys and not to let the occasional idiot get to him. But that’s why he never posted much. If he posted something, he knew what he was talking about, and had no patience with some kid arguing with him about it. So, he seldom posted.
He was a wealthy man, but about as “frugal” as anyone I ever met. As a result, he loved to find “good deals” at gun shows. I benefited from this, as he could sniff out the best prices on guns better than anyone I’ve ever seen.
And, unlike me, he could remember what any firearm was worth at any time.
Most of my guns were great deals that he found for me.
We made just about every gun show around here and went to the SHOT Show many times.
Turner had a hereditary heart condition that he had to deal with for many years.
His wife kept him on a strict diet and made him walk with her twice a day, every day. This probably extended his life for 10 to 15 years.
But it finally caught up with him a few weeks ago and he went into the hospital and finally was unable to fight off the inevitable.
He leaves a wife that he adored, a daughter and son-in-law that he loved, and one grandson, Chris, that was the pride of his life.
He was a good friend, and a great shooting buddy. I will sorely miss him.
Goodbye, old buddy. I sure miss you.