WEST POINT — Longtime Democratic Mississippi state Sen. Bennie Turner, a lawyer, champion of public education and respected member of the Legislature, died yesterday. He was 64.
Sen. Hob Bryan, a longtime colleague and friend of the legislator, told The Associated Press that Turner died yesterday at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, where he had been hospitalized with an illness.
Hospital spokesman Jack Mazurak confirmed Turner died yesterday, but said he couldn’t give a cause of death.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported Turner had a brain tumor.
Turner was a native of West Point. He was elected to the senate in 1992, and was chairman of the Judiciary Committee. His district was made up of Clay County and parts of Lowndes, Oktibbeha and Noxubee counties.
Bryan said Turner championed public education and was an “extraordinarily beloved and respected” senator.
“It’s just quite simply he was one of the most respected members of the Legislature,” Bryan said.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said he was saddened by Turner’s death.
“I had the opportunity to work closely with him during my time in the Legislature, and I know the people of his district will miss him,” Bryant said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones.”
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican who presides over the senate, said in a statement that “Turner fought for fairness and justice for all Mississippians.”
Turner had a law practice, Turner and Associates, and previously served as county prosecutor for Clay County.
He also was past president of the Clay County Bar Association and the Magnolia Bar Foundation Inc., and had served on the state Board of Bar Admissions, according to the law firm’s website.
Turner is survived by his wife, Edna, and three daughters. Funeral arrangements were unknown.
— Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal