March 24, 1958 – March 16, 2023
Loving mom & “Gammi,” – Barbara Turner Cooley went home to Jesus on March 16, 2023, at age 64.
Barbara was born into a tight-knit extended family in Chesterfield, VA, on March 24, 1958, as the oldest with three younger brothers. As a young child, she idolized her father – trailing closely behind him in the tobacco fields and fervently picking snaps and shelling butter beans for hours on end as she giggled with her cousins – the brood of them the best of friends. After their work was done, the kids would run with wild abandon back and forth between their grandparents’ and aunt & uncles’ yards down the “race path” – thrilled with the freedom country living provided. On special summer nights, the whole group piled into their Uncle Garland’s pickup truck and headed to Mr. Phillips’ store for treats. Barbara also spent countless hours in the kitchen by her beloved Mama’s side – learning the secret ingredients for her famous homemade biscuits and the juiciest Southern fried chicken.
During her teenage years, Barbara’s contributions remained a vital part of the family’s livelihood, as she continued to spend long days in the tobacco field – while also babysitting for families from her church community, igniting her compassion for caring for children. She frequently spent humid summer afternoons with her cousin – laying out in the sun with their portable record players listening to Elvis & David Cassidy while flipping through 16 Magazine. Barbara was a proud Clover Hill High School Cavalier, graduating in 1976 after performing front & center of every football game halftime show as a member of their Color Guard team.
After graduation, Barbara worked briefly in the Chesterfield County Treasurer’s Office before getting married and transitioning into the roles of devoted full-time mother and homemaker. She instilled in her family the importance of creating a house filled with love and laughter, also managing an in-home daycare for many years – surrounded by a constant chaos that soothed her soul.
Barbara was fiercely dedicated to her home church, Second Branch Baptist, which she attended since she was a baby- raised up in the Lord and entrenched in deep Christian values. She was an integral part of the church’s Motor Racing Outreach (MRO), preparing meals and helping minister to the race team. She also taught Sunday School in the church nursery and was a committed member of the Women’s Ministry Union of Virginia (WMUV), while also dedicating her blood, sweat and tears (sometimes literally) to planning & coordinating Vacation Bible School every year.
Later in life, Barbara enjoyed working as a garden shop manager for several years – where she lovingly watered & talked to her favorite tulips & daffodils, while enjoying animated conversation with customers about the best season to plant certain vegetables or the perfect herb to keep on hand in the kitchen. At home, she took long walks around the property, admiring “Nanny’s snowball bushes” and the exquisite rose bushes that border the family cemetery’s fence. She thanked God for His creations and enjoyed capturing photos to savor their beauty all year long.
Before too long, baby babbles called back out to her and Barbara spent many years once again dedicating her time and energy to the next generation. Her heart grew with each new year of students – unabashedly referring to them as “her babies,” bursting with affection and prioritizing their care and growth as seriously as she did her own children’s.
From the first day she became a Gammi, Barbara took her new responsibilities very seriously. She supplied endless snuggles, ice creams, play chases ending in tickles, & gave into “one more time’s” EVERY time to her grandchildren’s absolute delight. She was the most content with a baby on her shoulder and a child’s small hand intertwined with her own.
Throughout her life, Barbara truly embodied a servant’s heart and always put others’ needs before her own – taking sincere empathy to a whole new level. She once happened to call her cousin while she was in the throes of frustration baking a wedding cake and an hour later, Barbara pulled up in the driveway to help without being asked. When her son appeared at the front door after school day after day with cuts, bruises and various Band-Aid’s, she always dropped everything to scoop him up and soothe him before he ran off looking for the next injury. When her oldest grandchild was a newborn, Barbara dragged herself out of bed at 2 a.m. and drove to their house to help settle the unconsolable, squirming baby so that her parents could finally collapse into a few hours of sleep. After her youngest daughter was already an adult and moved out of the house, she still dropped everything to deliver a sandwich and smoothie to her work when she learned that she’d accidentally left hers at home.
Barbara was a shell-seeking extraordinaire taking long walks down North Carolina’s shoreline; a speed racer blaring George Strait with the windows down – breathing in the fresh mountain air on the way to visit her baby brother’s family; a Redskins superfan who jumped up & down shouting “Get him! Stomp him!” with reckless abandon every time the opposing team was on the 10 yard line; a traditional Southern cook whipping up mouth-watering corn pudding, broccoli cheese casserole, & chicken rice soup for every family Sunday lunch and Easter bunny cake & Christmas cake on holidays; a self-proclaimed “mush” tearing up reading every birthday card, watching every Kodak commercial & Little House on the Prairie episode, and as she added every Precious Moments figurine to her collection; she was the sweetest soul with an actual heart of gold – who threw money into the offering plate every Sunday, even when she didn’t have any to spare.
Barbara joins her parents, Robert & Elizabeth Turner; and her brother, Bruce, in Heaven. She is survived by her children, Nicole Crowder (Joe), Daniel Cade, Christina Odom (Garrett); and grandchildren, Katie & Nate Crowder and Jackson & Bryson Odom; her brothers, Kevin Turner & Russell Turner (Dawn); her niece, Kota Maner (Matt); her nephew, Sam Turner; her aunts, Mimi Paulett, Rosie Turner, and Idie Kidd; and many deeply treasured cousins.
She will be greatly missed, but left an incredible legacy on us all. We will hold our memories close to our hearts and find comfort in her meeting her Savior and reunion with her Heavenly family.
“I wish I could see the angels’ faces when they hear your sweet voice sing.” -Vince Gill, Go Rest High On That Mountain
Her family is immensely grateful for the kind, compassionate staff at Faithful Servants Care & Lucy Corr for helping care so well for her over the last few years.
In lieu of flowers, please make contributions in memory of Barbara Turner Cooley to the Dementia Society of America by mail to PO Box 600, Doylestown, PA 18901, or online: https://dementiasociety.charityproud.org/donate?inMemoryOf=Barbara%20Turner%20Cooley
Family will receive friends during a public viewing Sunday, March 19, 2023, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., at J.T. Morriss & Son – Chester Chapel, at 3050 W. Hundred Road, Chester, Virginia 23831.
Barbara’s service will be held Monday, March 20, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. at Second Branch Baptist Church, with a graveside interment immediately following at the Wilson Family Cemetery.