Reflections: Celebrating Ponoka’s homecoming

Celebrating the Ponoka families who dedicated their time to Ponoka

Theresa (Kohlman) Turner Photo courtesy of the Fort Ostell Museum

By Mike Rainone for the News

I am sure that many residents of our Ponoka town and county will always have countless fond memories of the gala Ponoka homecoming weekend that was held from July 31st to Aug. 4, 2004 and would proudly celebrate and toast our town’s centennial.

The 100th birthday party would welcome the ongoing generations of thousands of former and past families, individuals, and guests to colourful non-stop special events and activities for all ages at the arena complex and throughout our entire friendly community.

It certainly was a real honour for me during that busy year to be asked to represent our town council on the Ponoka Centennial Committee, which also included Barb Greshner, town manager Myra Raugust, Mayor Ken Greenwell, Gawney Hinkley, Theresa Turner, and a host of dedicated volunteers and sponsors. The non-stop family events were celebrated in a casual atmosphere of meet and greet, mix and mingle with old and new friends and neighbours, and featured pancake breakfasts, a harvest supper, display booths, a massive birthday cake, souvenirs, photo-opportunities, and delightful entertainment and presentations by local and visiting groups from all ethnic backgrounds and walks of life. As well as hearing greetings and congratulations from town and county and Alberta government officials and guests throughout the event the large crowds also showed their appreciation for a group of town and county ladies who were honoured for their service and dedication during that exciting, colourful, and first memorable and progressive Ponoka century from 1904 to 2004.

Your Ponoka News is pleased to continue to present and share the colourful stories of those amazing and dedicated pioneer ladies, and to salute them for their support and love of their community.

Theresa (Kohlman) Turner

Theresa was a daughter of Nick and Mary Kohlman, who arrived in Ponoka with their family from Penticton, B.C. in 1948, and then settled on the seven-acres of land two miles north of town that they had purchased from Garnet Lefluer in 1949. In 1951 a service station and coffee shop known as Nick’s Service was built and operated by Nick, Mary, and family, which along the way would grow to include daughters Agnus, Della, Deanna, Mary Ann, Annette, Barbara, and Theresa, as well as sons Nick, Denis, Wes, and Jim. After the Kohlman family moved to Ponoka, Nick Sr. would purchase the Red Head Service Station and operated it as Kohlman Motors until his passing in 1961.

After completing her education Theresa worked as a secretary in Ponoka, later married Ray Turner, and would become an avid business-woman and keen volunteer in all facets of our thriving community. Initially Mrs. Turner became the co-owner and manager of Direct Travel and Cruise Centre, an enterprise that grew rapidly from one employee to four full-time female employees and has proudly continued to serve the travel needs of the town and districts at 5118-50th street for over 40 years. This very ambitious lady later acquired the co-ownerships of Steel Magnolias Fashions with a Flair, which offered as its exciting mandate the exciting opportunity of providing a unique shopping experience for the women of Ponoka and surrounding districts.

As well as enjoying lots of quality time with her husband Ray and their children Craig and Kara and grandchildren, along with many friends, Theresa would also become a longstanding and totally dedicated participant and avid supporter of the Town of Ponoka, serving on countless boards and committees. In the area of community recreation she was the county member on the Ponoka and District Recreation Board for six years, during which time a complete overhaul of all of our children’s playgrounds was completed and a new Recreation Master Plan was developed. As an active member of the Ponoka Tennis Club Theresa would assist in the need and promotion for more tennis courts in the community. Theresa has also faithfully volunteered at the St. Augustine’s Parish Church as a member of the parish council as well as serving as the chairperson for four years on both their building and the arts and environmental committees

Theresa Turner’s exciting vision and ability to put her ideas into action have resulted in many new and unique programs and permanent attractions for everyone of all ages in and around our community. As a founding board member of the Town of Ponoka Revitalization Downtown Streetscape program she helped to bring to reality the major upgrading of Chipman Avenue and Railway Street, as well as honouring and preserving the outstanding legacy, contributions and colourful traditions of our historical landscapes, businesses, owners, staff, and memories through that amazing story of 1904 to 2004 and beyond. As a member and chairperson of the initial founding board of the Ponoka Rising Sun Clubhouse she helped to create a friendly and welcome place in our community for former residents of the Alberta Hospital, served on the Ponoka Centennial Committee from its beginning in 1997 until the gala 100th birthday celebration in 2004, and was the chairperson and eight year member of the Ponoka Citizen of the Year Committee. Mrs. Turner has also shown her outstanding leadership and strong commitments to the well-being and promotion of our community by serving as a member of the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce in many capacities for 25 years. She has always really looked forward to helping out with the initiating and chairing on countless enthusiastic internal committees and projects that have resulted in delightful annual family events such as our downtown garage sale, trade show, classic car show and shine, Santa Central, and as a liaison person for such Ponoka Stampede events such as the Ponoka float, tourist office, downtown hoedowns, pancake breakfasts, and on and on. Along the way on a broader level Theresa Turner has also reached out to represent her community by serving as a member and chairperson of the Ponoka Economic Development Board for five years, during which time they aggressively promoted and established a central Alberta partnership with 17 communities. She would also spend two busy years on the Alberta Tourism Action Committee during that important time when Ponoka was developing their master plan as well as pre-planning an extensive new trail system.

The Ponoka town and county community are so very fortunate to have such a dedicated, innovative, and hardworking person as Theresa Turner in their midst and as a loyal member of their team, and her powerful, dedicated, and longstanding comittment to the betterment and growth of Ponoka has been unsurpassed and will no doubt carry on long into our future.

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