Billy Barnes Turner
Billy Barnes Turner
  • November 26, 1937 - June 9, 2017
  • Tampa, Florida

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Legendary Coach, beloved husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, Billy Turner, age 79 of Tampa, Florida, passed away after a valiant battle with cancer, on Friday June 9, 2017. He was surrounded by his family at home in North Tampa.

Billy was born on November 26, 1937 in Moulton, Alabama to Luther and Martha (Barnes) Turner. He moved to Auburndale, Florida in the second grade, where he grew up in a hard-working family including three brothers, Edward (deceased), Jack, (deceased) and Don (Sulligent, AL), and his sister Ruby (deceased).

A graduate of Auburndale High School, Billy was a star athlete, competing in four sports, including a two time state basketball championship team. He held the school record for the mile run and placed second in the state in his senior year. He went on to earn twelve collegiate letters, playing three sports at the University of Tampa. Billy would eventually return to his alma mater from 1973 to1975, in roles as Assistant Football Coach and Athletic Director. He is honored as a member of the University of Tampa Athletic Hall of Fame.

While attending The University of Tampa, Billy met the love of his life, Lucille (Lucy) Cabrera. They were married on November 24, 1960 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Billy would become ‘the son they never had’ to Lucy’s parents, Mario and Helen Cabrera. He learned to love Spanish food and he especially loved Helen’s black beans and boliche. Billy and Lucy would raise eight children, two boys and six girls. In the summer of 1970, they built a home on a beautiful acre of land in the Lake Magdalene area that would become the center of the Turner Family Universe for years to come.

Billy’s head coaching career began at Hillsborough High School in 1968 and ended 40 years later at Chamberlain High School. In 38 seasons, he led teams to 254 victories, making him the winningest High School Football Coach in Hillsborough County history. Through the course of his career as a Teacher and Football Coach, Billy was recognized with numerous awards and tributes. Chamberlain's field is named in his honor, as is the Coach of the Year Award presented annually by the National Football Foundation's Tampa chapter. But if you were to ask Billy, what was the greatest reward of all, he would tell you it was working with ‘kids’. Coach Turner drew great joy from mentoring and coaching kids. He saw the potential in each and every one of them and as such, he influenced thousands of lives. Even in his retirement, he continued to work as an Assistant Coach with his son Brian, sharing his love of football and his inspiring story of ‘never quit’.

Billy loved sports, and golf was one of his favorites. When he retired from coaching, he played as often as possible. He dreamed of the chance to go to the Masters and to play golf in Ireland. But more than sports, Billy Turner loved his family. His love for Lucy never waned, from that very first day they met to his very last breath. And Billy loved his children. He was a beacon of strength, a role model, and a best friend to them. Finally, Billy loved his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He spent his every spare moment attending their games, recitals, awards, and events. He was the epitome of a family man.

Billy will be greatly missed by his loving wife of 56 years, Lucille (Cabrera), and his children, Tamara (John) Steele, Billy (Trish) Turner, Jr., Tianne (Dan) Doyle, Brian Turner, Tricia (Mike) McManus, Tiffany (Rob) Hudson, Taryn Turner, Tenille (Charles) Trigg, 20 grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, mother-in-law Helen (Mendez) Cabrera, brother Don (Carol) Turner, Sister-in-law Karin Turner, and his many nieces and nephews.

A Funeral Mass in memory of Billy will be celebrated on Friday, June 16, 10:30 a.m., at St. Lawrence Catholic Church, 5225 North Himes Avenue in Tampa, Florida, with Father Chuck Dornquast presiding.

To honor Billy, in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Coach Billy Turner Scholarship Fund, Community Foundation Tampa Bay.