Local doctor retires after 50 years of practice

On October 26, Dr. James R. Turrentine, a stalwart in the medical community of Southern Oklahoma, spent his last day in the clinic before officially retiring. During his time in Ardmore, he performed thousands of surgeries, including the first laparoscopic gallbladder removal in the area, delivered thousands of babies and provided general care to generations of families. 

“Any time he got the call that someone needed help, he would always go in,” said Regina Turrentine, his wife of 58 years. “Not once did he refuse the call.”

During his career as a physician, he stayed incredibly busy, but this was nothing new for Turrentine. In fact, his first job was delivering three different paper routes in his hometown of Stigler. Mrs. Turrentine recalls that he would share the candy corn he kept in his shirt pocket with his customers when it came time to collect payment. 

As a young teen he worked as a soda jerk at Palace Drug in Stigler, and he worked in the hayfields of Haskell County every summer. He particularly enjoyed this because it helped him get ready for football season. During high school he played football, basketball and baseball. He made all conference for three years in football and basketball.

In 1960, Turrentine married Regina Jiles and the two began attending the University of Oklahoma. He graduated in 1963 in the top 10 percent of his class with a degree in pharmacy. During his time at OU, he worked at a service station on weekends during his first year and later at the pharmacy in Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City. To support his growing family, his sons, Jamie and Brian, were born during his time at OU, he would work in oilfields — sometimes as far away as Nebraska.

While waiting for his wife to graduate college, Turrentine worked at Tubb Drug in Midwest City from 1963 until 1964 when the family moved to Kansas City where Turrentine began school at the Kansas City College of Osteopathy and Surgery. During his time there, he stayed at the top of his class, all while working as a pharmacist on weekends. After graduating, he opened his fist practice in Wellington, Kansas. 

Southern Oklahoma first got to know Dr. Turrentine when he moved to Sulphur in 1973 after the town fathers had reached out to him to help them keep their struggling hospital open. He performed surgeries during the evening and opened the Turrentine Family Clinic where he saw patients during the day. After two years, Dr. Turrentine had helped the hospital get back in the black, and he moved his practice to Ardmore.

Once in Ardmore, he continued to practice OB care and surgery, along with seeing general patients until 2010 when he decided to focus entirely on seeing patients in the clinic. He continued this practice until his full retirement last month.

Dr. Turrentine did not; however, focus his entire life on work. He loved spending time with his two sons and later five grandchildren. He bought motorcycles for both boys when they were five and eight years old and they would spend the evenings behind their home in Kansas zipping back and forth on the bikes. This turned into weekend trips to Wichita’s Big Ditch with the boys and their friends.

Once the grandchildren came along in the 1990s, he would spend hours watching Disney films and other children’s programming with the kids sitting on his lap or tucked in his arms. The children spent many evenings and weekends with their grandparents and, according to Mrs. Turrentine, every night would end with ice cream — often with many separate servings.