Barbara Turnbull’s indomitable spirit was an inspiration to thousands. She passed away this month at age 50.

An angel in a 300-pound mechanical chair

  • May 21, 2015

Barbara Turnbull, who died last week at age 50, impacted thousands through her charitable work, her writing, her advocacy for the disabled and quite simply by her indomitable spirit.

Through her deeds and words, she lifted herself up from a victim of senseless crime who was left a quadriplegic into a conqueror of all obstacles and an inspirational humbler of the rest of us who think we have problems. She may have been weighed down by a 300-pound mechanical chair, but she soared like an angel and enriched so many lives.

I was lucky enough to know her from my days working at the Toronto Star where she was a reporter. I can’t claim to be a close friend, but I did like her a lot and respect her immensely. The last time I saw her was just before this past Christmas.

I was delivering her two copies of the book called Hurricane Hazel which I co-wrote with former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion.

It was in Mississauga on Sept. 23, 1983 when four cowardly brutes came into the milk store where then 18-year-old Barb was closing up and shot her — all for $40 cash. One of the assailants was actually in high school classes with Barb. 

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