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story.lead_photo.caption Nedra Turney at her home outside Texarkana, Ark. Photo by Lori Dunn / Texarkana Gazette.

Service to community has long been a part of Nedra Harris Turney's life.

She was executive director of the Texarkana Chapter of the American Red Cross for 22 years and has served on the Miller County Conservation Board for about 35 years.

"I've loved my conservation board. I came on the board in 1986. I'm going on 35 years on the board and I've been board chair the biggest part of the time," she said.

Turney was born in 1940 in Ashdown, Arkansas, while her parents were living with her maternal grandparents. After her birth, the family moved back to the Harris family farm outside Texarkana, Arkansas.

"My dad's family had this land," she said.

Her parents, Oscar and Katherine Harris, were a huge influence on her and their corner of Miller County has always been home. In 2008, Nedra and her husband Jerry Turney built a house on part of the family property.

Her father worked downtown and Turney remembers visiting him at work as a child.

"I have a lot of good, good memories of riding in the back of the truck to go downtown," she said.

Some of her first memories are of the hardships during World War II. She also remembers her years attending school.

Nedra Harris met Jerry Turney at North Heights Junior High and they started dating. Nedra and Jerry graduated from Arkansas High School in 1958 and married in 1959.

They both eventually worked in banking. Nedra later worked for the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts.

The two raised a son and two daughters and now have several grandchildren. In 2019, they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

In 1984, Turney worked as executive director of the Texarkana Chapter of the American Red Cross.

"I had a friend who had worked with the Red Cross and I always had such respect for her and the work they did," Turney said.

The job could be physically and emotionally demanding. It was especially hard in 2005 because of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Evacuees poured into Texarkana on buses, stressed and exhausted, many with only the clothes on their backs.

"Those (times) were hard," she said. "We worked so many hours a day but it was very satisfying."

Turney retired from her position in 2006.

Another labor of love for Turney is her work with the Miller County Conservation Board. She joined the board during a time when it was rare for a woman or a minority to serve.

The Miller County Conservation District owns the John W. Measel Center at 515 Jefferson Ave., a 12,000-square-foot building.

"This is where my heart is," Turney said. "We have grand plans for it and in our minds we can see it all coming together."

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