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Obituary: Mabel (Dee) Turner Willard 1932-2018

Mabel (Dee) Turner Willard

Mabel (Dee) Turner Willard

Mabel (Dee) Turner Willard, 86 of Cottonwood, died on her 86th birthday on Friday, January 19, 2018 at her home in Cottonwood. She was born on January 19, 1932 in Ventura, CA to Edgar John Turner and Meta Margaret Wist Turner.

Mabel attended the University of Nevada, Reno (Bachelors in journalism) and Claremont Graduate University (Masters in economics). She worked as a secondary teacher in the Pomona Unified School District, CA.

Mabel received the 1990 Who Award from the Associated Pomona Teachers for outstanding chapter service to education and achieved level of Silver Life Master as a competitive bridge player. She was once active with the Sedona Unitarian Universalist Fellowship although less so in the past few years.

Mabel was an avid bridge player with the Sedona Bridge Center, meeting regularly at the Elks Lodge. She was a world traveler, an accomplished dancer and an active professional union member and leader. Daily she enjoyed crossword and jigsaw puzzles. She relished playing games, including video games with her grandsons but risked ostracization by describing Minecraft as a “game with no purpose”. She was a keen reader and enthusiastically appreciated professional soccer matches and participated in a local women’s soccer league. She loved sporting wildly beautifully manicured nails (thanks Valentina!).

Mabel was the proud grandmother of seven wonderful grandchildren. We know of so many golden moments, one when she fought for and won the battle to retain her teaching job when she became pregnant which at the time signaled automatic dismissal. Your legacy lives on! We will dearly miss you.

Mabel was preceded in death by her husband Robert Edward Willard. She is survived by sons David Edgar Rocha of Tucson, AZ, Anthony Rafael Rocha of San Diego, CA and Karl Castillo Rocha (Lorraine Marie Le Ber Rocha) of San Leandro, CA; daughters Anita Louise Rocha of Seattle, WA and Andrea Meta Rocha Strobel (Eric Edward Strobel) of Cottonwood; brother Edgar (Bo) Turner of Santa Paula, CA; and 7 grandchildren.

Services will be held at Westcott Funeral Home, 1013 E. Mingus Avenue in Cottonwood on Saturday, February 17, 2018 at 3:00 pm.

Contributions may be made to The Verde Historical Society (a non-profit with volunteers who manage the Clemenceau Museum), 1 N. Willard Street, Cottonwood, AZ 86326.

An online guestbook is available to sign at

Information provided by survivors.