The following information was extracted from Annette Brennan's obituary for Dr Turner, Uninews, Issue 5, August 1998.
Historian John Turner, who died on June 10 (1998), will best be remembered for his published work on the history of the Hunter region.
John, who dedicated his life to teaching and research, carne to Newcastle in 1961 from the University of Sydney to teach BHP apprentices in an adult education program. He joined the University in 1973, working for the Department of Community Programmes and later the Open Foundation program. He was a strong proponent of adult education.
In 1988, John, described by Godfrey Tanner as "a local historian of standard", joined the history department. He began lecturing in Australian history in 1988, breaking down the department's traditional focus on European history.
Former history department head, W.G. McMinn, described John as a "coal face" researcher and an economic historian with a special interest in industrial history. Another of his colleagues, Don Wright, felt that John brought "strength and interest into local history" and had made an "enormous contribution". Lecturer, Erik Eklund, said of that through John's work "we are constantly reminded that there is a history where we live".
John produced work on Newcastle's convict period, the Lake Macquarie Aboriginals, convict artist Joseph Lycett, local industrialists James and Alexander Brown, and was working on an oral history of several BHP departments up to the week before his death. Another former head of the history department, Alan Ward, said John's greatest talent was his ability to focus on individuals and build up the local history surrounding them.