Ray Turner dies at age 99


Ray Turner, the bass in the original King's Heralds Quartet, died on Thursday, May 15, at a nursing home in Killeen, Texas with his wife of 75 years at his side. Ray would have been 100 this coming October.

Services were conducted on Sunday, May 18, at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Keene, Texas, where he was a member. Burial was in the McAdams Cemetery near Graford, Texas.

Raymond Milton Turner was born October 22, 1908 in Seymour, Indiana to James Milton and Ethel Coble Turner. He married Ouida Vieve Cloninger on July 31, 1932.

He is survived by his wife, Ouida Turner, of Graford; daughters Bonnie Rae House and husband Franklin of Ft. Davis, Texas, and Arlene Ethel Mitchell and husband Gerald of Graford, Texas; sister, Vivian Coble and husband Wendall of Florida; eight grandchildren and their spouses; five great-grandchildren; and eighteen nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his son, James Milton Turner, in October 2002.

While a student at Southwestern Junior College (now Southwestern Adventist University) in Keene, Texas, Ray began harmonizing with the three Crane brothers - Louis, Waldo, and Wesley - and formed the Lone Star Four Quartet in 1927. Ray also met Ouida at Southwestern - he was 23 and she was 20. They were married on July 31, 1932.

Following college, they wanted to continue singing as a quartet, though they suspected they needed a more steady source of income. They decided to study nursing at the St. Helena Sanitarium in California. 

Their first job after graduation, however, wasn't in nursing. Instead they were hired as a quartet in Oakland, California. But even during the Depression, the $30 a month that each earned did not pay the bills. The four young men traveled south to the Los Angeles area and began working at Glendale Sanitarium and Hospital.

H.M.J. Richards was the chaplain at the Sanitarium. After hearing the quartet sing, he recommended them to his son, H.M.S. Richards, founder of the Voice of Prophecy, who asked the Lone Star Four to join his evangelism and radio team in 1936.

They had a one-hour program every afternoon on Hollywood's station KMPC. On Saturday mornings they had a program on KNX, also in Hollywood. Every evening they assisted with Richards' evangelistic campaign in his tabernacle at Long Beach. They also helped other evangelists in the area when they could.

The following year, the Voice of Prophecy conducted a radio contest to re-name the quartet, since the name "Lone Star Four" was no longer appropriate. The winning name was the King's Heralds. 

Though Louis and Waldo Crane left the quartet in 1939 to attend medical school, and Wesley Crane left in 1943, Ray Turner's rumbling bass voice was featured in the King's Heralds until 1947. Besides singing, Ray also directed Voice of Prophecy live broadcasts at the radio studio, making sure they started and ended on time.

Ray and Ouida then began a life-long career in evangelism, working with evangelists around the world. Ouida played piano when he sang and they became household names while working with Fordyce Detamore, Harry Dill, Dick Barron, and others. Turner was known not only for his singing, but also as an outstanding personal worker and in-home visitor.

In retirement, the Turners lived at the Rosewood Retirement Community in Killeen, Texas. Paying tribute to them following their 75th wedding anniversary, Jerry D. Thomas, editor of the Southwestern Union Record, wrote: "The Turners . . . are known and admired in the retirement community for their enduring romantic relationship and are often seen wheeling around together in an electric wheelchair with Ray driving and Ouida in his lap."

Following Ray's death, Leighton Holley, president of the Texas Conference, said: "Literally thousands of people will be in heaven as a result of his God-led ministry. I look forward to hearing him sing 'When They Ring Those Golden Bells' on resurrection morning."

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Sources for this article include the book, A Voice in the Air, by Robert E. Edwards; "75 Years and Counting" by Jerry D. Thomas in the February 2008 issue of the Southwestern Union Record   (www.swurecord.org/record.php?storyID=333&&issueDate=200802); a press release from the Texas Conference; and the obituary provided by the Crosier-Pearson Funeral Home in Cleburne, Texas.

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