Weekender

Community rallies around memory of late musician

The Cliff Turner Band regularly played First Friday events in downtown State College. A Kidney Disease Awareness Ride will be held Saturday to honor Turner, who died in 2015.
The Cliff Turner Band regularly played First Friday events in downtown State College. A Kidney Disease Awareness Ride will be held Saturday to honor Turner, who died in 2015. Photo provided

About two and a half years ago, Centre County lost a beloved member of its music community, Cliff Turner. On Saturday, local organizations and businesses will come together to honor Turner at a Kidney Disease Awareness Ride starting at the Pine Grove Mills VFW.

Proceeds will benefit the Kidney Foundation of Central Pennsylvania and will be specifically directed to provide support to Centre County residents with kidney disease, said Turner’s fiancee, Beth Hartzell.

“Through KFCP, Centre County children with kidney disease can get the opportunity to attend Camp Kydnie — a summer camp for kids with kidney disease," she said.

Turner was a well-known musician who lived in the area since the early 1980s. He had kidney disease, was on dialysis three times a week for most of about 12 years, and continued to perform in a variety of bands over that time, Hartzell said.

I didn’t know Turner, but some local musicians I’m friends with did, and I remember their response when he passed away in November 2015. It was clearly a heavy loss. So it’s great to see our wonderful community rally around Turner’s memory in a way that also works to combat the disease that ultimately led to his passing. Bands that will play the event include Miss Melanie and the Valley Rats, Sgt. Bob Timney, The Bigs and Donny Burns and Rob Chisholm.

The ride was organized by Hartzell and various community and business organizations.

“Many generous local merchants, organizations and musicians are donating time, talent, goods, services and gift certificates/gift cards in support of this ride in memory of Cliff,” Hartzell said. “The ride is open to all vehicles, and will be held rain or shine.”

If riding is not an option, event organizers have secured other means of transportation. A party bus is an option for anyone not wanting to drive, and leaves the Centre Hall American Legion at 11 a.m. Registration is 10 a.m. to noon at the Pine Grove Mills VFW. It will depart the VFW at 12:30 p.m. and follow a route leading to stops along the way and ending at the Centre Hall American Legion around 5 p.m., where participants will enjoy dinner, multiple bands, the opportunity to win prizes and 50/50 raffles.

The father of a son and twin daughters, Turner was a family man who loved to play music.

“There are so many things that I loved about Cliff and still do,” Hartzell said in an email, “but some at the top of the list are his great sense of humor, his big, warm, welcoming smile, his hardy, genuine laugh, his friendly, outgoing nature, that beautiful singing voice and those hugs that enveloped you. We had so much fun together all the time and I really miss that.”

If you go

What: Kidney Awareness Ride in Memory of Cliff Turner

When: 10 a.m.-noon Saturday registration

Where: Ride starts at 12:30 p.m. Saturday from the Pine Grove Mills VFW and arrives at Centre Hall Legion at 5 p.m.

Info: 231-0880

Kevin Briggs is a musician, writer and teacher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail.com.

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