Remembered as a reliable, tough but generous educator, Nelwyn Bagwell Turk left a reputation that lives on across the Gainesville and Hall County community.
“She was highly regarded,” said Lee Lovett, deputy superintendent of Hall County Schools.
Turk died at age 84 on Tuesday following a sudden illness.
According to her obituary, she began teaching in 1952 at age 19 and retired in 1995. She served as a teacher, assistant principal and principal in elementary, middle and high schools in Hall County and also served as adjunct professor with North Georgia College.
Gordon Higgins, Hall County Schools spokesman, recalled fond memories of Turk when he was a teacher/coach and she served as Johnson High School principal in the late 1980s and early 90s.
“She had a reputation among both students and faculty as a no-nonsense leader,” he said.
One such moment came to mind. Higgins said a large group of seniors planned to skip school and spend a “leisurely day” at Lanier Islands. With graduation nearing, Turk suspected the “prank” and stepped in.
“When the caravan of cars pulled up to the main entrance, the seniors in those cars were shocked and dismayed to find Nelwyn Turk standing there pointing sternly to the north, the direction to travel back to Johnson High School,” Higgins said. “All complied without even the protests of a honked horn.”
Lovett described her as forthright and honest.
“You could depend on what she said,” he said. “She was a fine lady and a strong, wise leader.”
Turk was a member of numerous professional associations and had just recently been inducted into the Brenau University Alumni Hall of Fame.
She also was a member of Mountain View Baptist Church, where she taught Sunday School and was the choir director for more than 45 years.
Turk grew up in a large family described as close-knit and hardworking.
Her survivors include siblings, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at Mountain View Baptist Church with interment to follow at Memorial Park Cemetery.
The family will receive friends Friday from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at the funeral home.