Family says he was doing what he loved
Family members of Andrew Marshall Turner described him as someone who was adventurous and devoted to his family and work. The 34-year-old died last week in what appeared to be an accident at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in St. Leonard.
Born and raised in Brandywine, Turner was a fisherman and marine scientist who worked as the facilities manager at Morgan State University’s Patuxent Environment and Aquatic Research Laboratory. Turner’s family said
he was a waterman at heart, and he died doing what he loved.
On Oct. 31, Turner took a group of students out crabbing, and he stayed behind to finish up after the students left, according to Turner’s sister Rita Vera.
Police responded to the park at 4:16 p.m. that day after receiving a report of Turner missing. Four hours later, he was found deceased in the water when divers did a grid search.
Vera said by phone Monday that her brother loved fishing, the water and his family.
“He always told Mom and Dad he wanted to fish,” she said, not- ing her brother had gravitated toward the water since he was little.
In a short autobiography posted on Morgan State University’s website, Turner said his fascination with water began when he was growing up along the shores of the Patuxent, just a few miles north of the research lab where he worked.
At a young age, he wrote that experience “unknowingly created a wealth of ecological knowledge and helped me understand the critical need for research, fostering a growing scientific understanding and most importantly stewardship.”
Turner’s online obituary started with a quote from Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea,” Turner’s favorite book. The novel tells an epic battle between an old, experienced fisherman and his greatest catch: a large marlin.
“I think that book kind of captured some of the reasons why he loved the water,” Vera said.
It wasn’t always about the high speed or the thrill. Sometimes it’s the little moments of fish breaching at sunset or sunrise on the water that drew her brother.
Vera said Turner was the kind of person who could always make things work and solve problems. The last time she talked to him about a week before he died, when he helped her solve a problem. She told him she had trouble keeping the foxes away from her chickens. He told her to buy a bottle of coyote urine from a local farm supply store and sprinkle it around where her chickens were.
She followed his advice but bought it online. And it worked, she said, because coyote urine scares foxes away as they fear running into their own predator.
“He was a really kind and gentle person,” Vera said. “He was enthusiastic about everything he did, including loving the people he loved.”
Married in 2014, Turner and his wife, Claire, have two young sons. The family has lived in North Beach for a couple of years.
“His wife and two boys are the light of his life,” Vera said.
In the hours following last week’s incident, Claire Turner made a public Facebook post say- ing “Andrew loves me and our boys so hard. He is an incredible father, patient, kind and present. I am so incredibly grateful for his love now more than ever.”
After graduating from high school, Turner earned his bachelor’s from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where he also played rugby, according to the family.
He earned his master’s in quantitative fisheries science in 2011 from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and worked in the fisheries and natural resource management, research and policy arenas for several years.
Other than fishing, Turner loved boating, surfing, skiing, mountain biking and other outdoors activities.
Andrew Marshall Turner shows off a huge rockfish he caught while fishing off a boat in the Chesapeake Bay in a family photo taken sometime in 2010. His family said the rockfish weighed about 50 pounds.