Turnipseed turns 90 on Saturday

Published 1:09 am Wednesday, September 15, 2004

By By LYDIA GRIMES Feature Reporter
Clarence L. Turnipseed will be 90 years old Saturday, Sept. 18, 2004 , and a celebration is planned. His family is planning to honor his many years with a reception which he laughingly calls a "wake."
He is not a native of Brewton but has been living here for the last 40 years. He retired from First National Bank in 1984.
He came to Brewton in January of 1965 as the executive vice president of Citizens-Farmers and Merchants Bank. He became president of the bank in 1968 and chairman of the board in 1983.
The bank went through many changes during those years. The name was changed to First National Bank and later would become BankTrust.
On. Jan. 12, 1966, the Board of Directors established a trust department and elected him as trust officer. He reported in March of that year that the approval of the trust department would be received from the state banking department and federal reserve system.
He has spent his retirement days working in his garden. He grows camellias that are good enough for show and although he is not as active as he once was, his flowers are still a good part of his life.
He also likes to read and spends as much time as his eyes will allow reading.
He was born in Union Springs and moved as a youngster to Georgiana. He graduated from Georgiana High School in 1930. His father was a pharmacist and was able to send him to college at Alabama Polytechnic Institute which is better known today as Auburn University. According to him, it cost his father $500 a year for him to attend college. He said that he really enjoyed himself while he was attending college.
He graduated from Auburn with a degree in agricultural engineering in 1935 and another degree in 1939 after he had gotten a job with the Soil Conservation Corp. He worked at CCC camps at Dadeville and Tuscaloosa. He married Dorothy Warren in 1939.
He had been in ROTC in college and was in the reserves after he graduated. In the summer of 1941 he received what he calls "a nice letter from Uncle Sam" requesting that he report for military service. He was inducted into the 42nd Field Artillery Battalion in the 4th Infantry Division. This was a division organized at Ft. Benning, Ga., sent to staging areas of England and trained for its role in Operation Overlord which was the D-Day Invasion of Europe which took place June 6, 1944. The division's 8th Infantry Regiment was the first allied unit to assault German forces on the Normandy coast when it landed on Utah Beach. It pushed forward for 26 days before reaching its objective. It was relieved by the 101st Airborne Division but not before the 4th Infantry Division had more than 5,000 casualties. The division then pushed into France and was given the honor of being the first to participate in the liberation of Paris. It moved into the Hurtgen Forest and fought its fiercest battle before moving on to the Battle of the Bulge, crossing the Rhine, the Danube and into Germany.
Instead of going back overseas, Turnipseed returned to his family and job working for soil conservation service and spent a year as Agricultural Director of the Alabama State Chamber of Commerce and secretary of the State Cattlemen's Association.
His connection with agriculture was the reason he got into banking. At that time banks needed someone who knew about agriculture, as much of their business was done with farmers and landowners. He was hired to work at First National Bank of Tuscaloosa.
His training came in handy when he became a vice president with First National Bank of Tuscaloosa and then when he came to Brewton.
Turnipseed and his wife had three daughters, Rebecca, Dorothy, and Margaret, and a son, Lee. He has three grandsons.
His wife, Dorothy, passed away a few years ago and he has plenty of help and friends, along with his family to look out for him.