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Donor likes ‘helping people get out of scrapes’


XENIA — The last year has been a landmark time of helping others for Xenia’s Larry Turner.

On Feb. 3 he became just the second donor in Community Blood Center history to complete 700 lifetime donations. But that was just part of it.

Despite a particularly demanding 2019, he made 20 platelet and 10 plasma donations. His goal for 2020 is to average three donations per month. He trails only Wendell Clark of Eaton, CBC’s top all-time donor, who currently has 711 lifetime donations.

Turner has been a Red Cross disaster response volunteer since 2004, requiring him to be away often, helping in disaster zones. But in 2019 he was needed here at home, assisting with the Memorial Day tornado outbreak and the Oregon District shootings.

“I didn’t have to leave Dayton,” he said. “It started with the KKK rally. We set up a command center. One week after that, the tornadoes hit. I was called out Monday evening. We knew we were going to get them, and they asked can you get set up? We were in place by 11 p.m. I was assistant director. I was in there all through June and in the middle of July we came off of it.

“Six weeks, then we had the shooting. I ran logistics again and we had another three weeks in the tent. From the last days of May, June, July into August. That was everything. The tornado was one thing. The shooting was totally different. We had to go through a psychological evaluation. It’s different.”

Turner was attending the Southern Ohio College in Cincinnati in 1966 and working nights at NCR when he began donating.

“We went to the old auditorium and donated up on tables,” he said. “We roughed it back in those days.”

He was serving in the Army Reserves when he was introduced to computers. Turner retired from system analysis at NCR in 2002 and spent four years working in IT for CBC before retiring in 2008.

CBC Collection Services Director Kay Ollech came to congratulate Turner in the Donor Café as he celebrated his milestone with cupcakes arranged in the number “700.”

“We would call him all the time, back in the time when we would need platelets right away for an emergency,” Ollech said. “We always knew the people you could call at 1 a.m. and they would say ‘yes.’ ”

Turner also said yes to joining the bone marrow donor program. He served on CBC’s first apheresis advisory board, and captained “Life Leaders” teams at NCR and Holy Trinity Church. He continues to find time for volunteering at the Dayton Art Institute and his passion for woodworking.

“I enjoy working and helping people get out of scrapes,” he said. “They’ve had a rough time. If I can help – that’s what I do here. I just show up. There are people who need this stuff.”

His 700th donation is simply a mile marker along the way of his “Donor for Life” journey.

“I’m finding out that I can’t do everything, it’s upsetting to me,” he said. “I’ll be 73 next week. But as long as I can, I’ll keep doing this. When I come in here, I just give back.”

He and his wife, Linda, have two children and several grandchildren.