Long-Time Berlin Business Owner Celebrated At Retirement

Long-Time Berlin Business Owner Celebrated At Retirement
03 10 Color Page 22 WEB

BERLIN – Dozens of residents, merchants and local officials turned out last week to offer well wishes to Berlin icon Jesse Turner as he ended a nearly seven-decade career on Main Street.

The local community celebrated Turner, the proprietor of the Berlin Shoe Box, with a reception at the town’s welcome center March 2.

“I want to thank everybody that’s supported me,” Turner said. “It’s been a pleasure.”

Turner, 86, was hired to shine shoes in the town’s lone shoe store as a teenager in 1949. After learning the ins and outs of the shop’s shoe repair machinery, he eventually took over the business. For years he was a familiar face on Main Street, selling and repairing shoes and supporting the town any way he could. He officially closed the shop and retired March 1. The space once occupied by the shoe store is set to become a nail salon.

Town leaders honored Turner with a proclamation during last week’s council meeting and the community gathered to celebrate his retirement Thursday. Mayor Gee Williams described it as a first of its kind event in Berlin’s 150-year-old history.

“Not many people come along in 150 years like Jesse,” he said.

Williams said it was fitting to honor Turner, who made a career of helping people walk, for his role in the town’s journey forward.

“Just remember that every journey begins with a first step,” he said. “This gentleman next to me, Jesse Turner, has helped people keep making those steps day after day, year after year, decade after decade. We can never be grateful enough.”

Commissioner Bud Church presented Turner with a recognition from the Worcester County Commissioners. It highlighted his “lifetime of service” to the community, as an entrepreneur as well as a civic leader. Turner, a recipient of the Berlin Award and past president of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce, is an active member of the New Bethel United Methodist Church and organizes the annual Berlin Memorial Day Parade.

“You’re a hero,” Church said.

He said he’d known Turner personally for years, as he’d repaired shoes for his family.

“Now that Jesse’s not going to be on Main Street your traffic on Main Street is going to decrease by 25 percent,” Church joked.

He added that he was glad that Turner was finally going to have some free time.

“Jesse is not only my friend he’s my pal,” Church said. “We have spent a lot of time together, all enjoyable.”

Carol Rose, chair of the town’s historic district commission, presented Turner with a proclamation from Delegate Mary Beth Carozza and Delegate Charles Otto recognizing his 68 years of service to the Eastern Shore.

“I was honored to be asked to come because I’ve known Mr. Turner since I was yay high,” Rose said. “It’s a big deal for me to be here.”

Turner, though looking forward to doing some fishing and golfing in his retirement, says he won’t quit the shoe trade entirely. He’s set up his 100-year-old shoe stitching and shaping machines in his garage.

“I’ll still do it when I feel like it,” he told The Dispatch last month. “I’m not a rocking chair person.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.