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Obituary: Dr Harold W Turner

The University has learnt with regret of the death in Auckland, New Zealand on Sunday, May 5, of Dr Harold Turner, aged 91. Dr Turner was a Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy from April 1966 until he resigned in September 1970 to take up a post at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He died in hospital of acute leukemia. 

Harold Turner pioneered the academic study of religion at Leicester and in this country. He, together with Vice-Chancellor Fraser Noble, introduced the subject - at first within the Department of Philosophy - in 1966. Fresh from Nigeria, he was given the title of Lecturer in Phenomenology and History of Religion, as well as a liberal book grant, to prepare for the first intake of eight students in the Autumn of that year. The numbers increased in subsequent years.

He left in 1970 for Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and thence to Aberdeen, Birmingham, and back to New Zealand. 

Amongst his major contributions to the field was his work on the Independent Religious Movements, begun in West Africa. This resulted in the classic two-volume work, African Independent Church (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1967). A six-volume bibliography of independent religious movements round the world appeared later at intervals.

Harold Turner leaves a wife, Maude, three daughters, a son, grandchildren and a great-grandchild. His funeral was held on Friday, May 10 at the Somervell Presbyterian Church in Remuera, New Zealand.

Dr Peter McKenzie
(Head of Department of Religion, 1977-89)
May 2002

Death notice: Dr H W Turner

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Last updated: 20 May 2002 11:26
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