Ian Turnbull

Obituary of Ian Turnbull


November 6, 1930 to May 26, 2023




      Music was his life.  Ian was born in Worcester, U.K.  His early years were spent in and out of air-raid shelters as a hungry child.  At age 15, he became a boy entrant in the British Army Worcester Regiment where they fed him, clothed him and educated him in the art of drumming.  Much against his mother’s wishes, at age 17, he was posted to Germany, Malaya and later, Jamaica.  Finally, after twelve years he resigned from the regiment and bravely headed off to Canada.


       In his new position in Petawawa he became Principal Percussionist with the Band of H.M. Canadian Guards.  Meanwhile on a blind date, he met Evanthia Apostoll, a detective with the Detroit Police who was also a painter.  Her medical challenges instigated a move to London, Ontario where Ian was transferred to the Royal Canadian Regiment.  He resigned from the military with an honourable discharge at age 45.


       Ian’s career continued to develop when he joined the London Symphony Orchestra as Principal Percussionist.  In addition, he played in Grand Theatre musicals and started up the Percussion Department at the University of Western Ontario.  He taught at UWO for several years and after he retired, the Ian Turnbull Percussion Award was created to help promising percussion students. 


      Now with time on his hands, Ian became involved with the International Percussive Arts Society and travelled the world opening new chapters.  He was the founding President of the Ontario Chapter and formed several subgroups in southern Ontario.  During this time, he created the Sabian/Pasic Scholarship to help young percussionists from across Canada fund their education.  For his work promoting percussion Ian was named to the London Mayor’s New Year’s Honours List and again honoured by the P.A.S. for Outstanding Chapter President. 


      Ian is survived by his wife, Joan Hysen Turnbull (nee Pack), and her children: Pamela Handleman in California, Jayne Hysen (Karen), and Peter Hysen (Kathy) in London, Ontario; also his nieces, Odette New (Graham), Anita Robe (Adrian), and nephew John Head (Chris), in the U.K.

      Bedridden and in his own home, after six long weeks, Ian passed quietly in the loving arms of his wife.  Our most sincere thanks go to Dr. Eric Wong and Dr. Kirk Hamilton.  A memorial service will be held at St. Martin-In-The-Fields Anglican Church, London, Ontario, on Saturday, June 3, at 2pm.   Memorial donations may be made to the church.

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