Grave Spotlight

In a way, cemeteries are like libraries. They contain the final resting places of thousands of people, each with their own separate and unique story. Some of these people are famous, and their stories are well known. Most are not, but that doesn't make their life any less interesting or their stories any less worthy of being told and remembered.

Periodically, we'll spotlight a different Los Angeles-area grave. Every person has a story, and we will use this space to tell their story, through their final resting place.

After your tour of the virtual cemetery, don't forget to visit the official store (or the brand new downtown location) on your way out and pick up a souvenir or two. Thanks!

Mildred Miles Turner

(March 4, 1845 - May 14, 1924)

Robert W. Turner

(Nov. 12, 1846 - May 27, 1924)

Nov. 27, 2010 -- Robert and Mildred Turner were married for 55 years. They were separated for less than two weeks before they began to spend eternity together. The only problem was that Robert had to catch a train to get there.

Robert Turner was born on Nov. 12, 1846, in Kentucky, the youngest of five children of Robert and Eliza Turner. Mildred Miles was born in Kentucky on March 4, 1845, the second of 10 children of Perry and Elizabeth Miles.

Robert and Mildred were married in 1869 and moved to Dayton, Ky., just across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio. Robert worked as a house painter and the Turners eventually had six children -- Arthur, Edna, Charles, Irwin, Ethel and Grace. By 1900, the family moved to Newport, Ky.

By 1910, the family had moved across the country to California, and was living on South Electric Avenue in Alhambra -- now the site of a car dealership -- and Robert was still working as a house painter, sometimes assisted by one of his sons. Their eldest son, Arthur, had moved out of the house, but the other five children, ranging in age from 23 to 36, still lived at home. (Arthur, who was working as a carpenter, didn't move far away, however. Arthur, his wife, Alice, and their son, Robert, lived on North Curtis Avenue in Alhambra, just a few blocks from his parents.)

By 1920, the family situation hadn't changed much. Robert, now 74, was still working as a house painter, and five children, now ranging in age from 33 to 46, were still living at home on South Electric Avenue. The widowed Edna was working as a clerk in a department store, Charles was painting houses, Irwin was a cutter in a felt factory, and Grace worked as a finisher for Kodak Pictures.

On May 14, 1924, Mildred died at the age of 79. The couple had been inseperable throughout their 55 years of marriage, and Robert was broken-hearted following his wife's death.

On the morning of May 27, 1924, Robert left the family home for the first time after his wife's death. He told one of his daughters that he was going for a short walk.

Robert Turner walked a few blocks south of the family home to the railroad tracks at South Marguerita Street and West Mission Road. According to a witness, he sat on the ground near the tracks. As the Southern Pacific Railroad's Sunset Limited approached, Robert stood up and walked directly into the path of the oncoming train.

(The Sunset Limited was Southern Pacific's premier train, built for luxury, first-class, long-distance travel and featuring all dark-green Pullman sleeper cars. The train traveled from New Orleans to San Francisco, via Los Angeles and San Diego.)

Robert Turner suffered a factured skull and two broken legs, and lived for only a few minutes after being taken to Alhambra Hospital. According to press reports, it was thought that he might have fainted, or become disoriented and lost his sense of direction before walking in front of the speeding locomotive.

Or perhaps the hearty 77-year-old house painter, still working and performing difficult physical labor, knew exactly what he was doing.

Robert and Midred Turner are buried together, at San Gabriel Cemetery in San Gabriel, Calif. They are surrounded by five of their six children -- Edna Turner Gallimore, Charles Turner, Irwin Turner, Ethel Turner and Grace Turner West. In addition to their close family ties, the Turners also passed on their longevity. Edna and Grace both died at the age of 79, Ethel died at 81, Irwin died at 82 and Charles died at 86.

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