Jesse “Jay” Turnbull

Funeral services for Jay Turnbull, 41, Lawrence, KS, will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, January 10, 2009 at Plymouth Congregational Church in Lawrence.  Private inurnment will be at Pioneer Cemetery on the West Campus of the University of Kansas. He died suddenly of natural cause at his home at 1617 Alabama Street, Lawrence, on Wednesday, January 7, 2009. 

He was born on June 24, 1967 in Baltimore, MD, the son of Rud and Ann Patterson Turnbull.  He had lived in Lawrence since moving here with his family in 1980 from Chapel Hill, NC.


Jay had been was a clerical assistant at the Beach Center on Disability

at The University of Kansas, since it was created by his parents in 1988.


 Jay had multiple disabilities including a significant intellectual disability.  He inspired his parents to create the Beach Center and through their teaching and scholarship in this country and internationally, he profoundly influenced the course of history for people with intellectual and related developmental disabilities in the 20th century. 


He insisted on living as fully and normally as his sisters Amy and Kate lived, and he challenged his parents and their friends and his principal care-givers Laura and Tom Riffel, and their family, who lived with him, to create a life fully directed by his choices and values. 


His was a life utterly unusual given the policies and practices typical for other people with disabilities.  Not only did he work at the Center he inspired, but he also lived with support from others at his homes on Hilltop Drive and then on Alabama Street. 


Jay loved music, gave a special handshake to everyone he greeted, was a faithful member of Plymouth Congregational Church, and a welcomed patron of such local restaurants as The Mad Greek, Munchers’ Bakery, Mirth Cafe, Chili’s, Wendy’s, and Dunkin’ Donuts. 


Jay inspired the two members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, Pat Hughes and Corey Royer, to create a program, Natural Ties, in which people with disabilities and KU students participated fully in aspects of life at KU and in Lawrence. 


Jay is survived by his parents and his sisters, Amy Patterson Rutherford Turnbull Khare (husband, Dr. Rahul), of Chicago, IL, and Katherine Cansler Turnbull, of New York City, both graduates of The University of Kansas.  Other survivors include his nephews, Dylan and Cameron Turnbull Khare and his niece, Maya Annika Khare, of Chicago. 


Jay’s parents welcome the gift of stories and memories about Jay, sent to them in care of their home.  In 2007, they created the Jay Turnbull Fellowship, to which gifts in his memory may be made to the University of Kansas Endowment Association, Lawrence, Kansas. 


His family welcomes visitors at the Warren-McElwain Mortuary, Lawrence, on Friday, January 9, from 6-8 p.m.



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