St. Louis Magazine
May, 1998


By the time Debbye Turner was 13 years old, she knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. Living with her divorced mother and older sister in the little college town of Jonesboro, Ark., she set her heart on veterinary school. Turner worked long and hard for the next decade to achieve her dream of becoming a veterinarian. Along the way, she also became Miss America.

But, Turner insists convincingly, that coveted title was just a means to an end.

“I was growing up with a single parent, in a lower-middle-class, African-American, southern home,” she recalls. “We didn’t have the finances to subsidize the necessary education.” Veterinary medicine requires not just a college degree but four years of postgraduate work that is both rigorous and expensive.

“I knew, even at 13 and 14, I would have to do something to help pay for my education,” she says. “So I worked on my grades. I knew I could get academic scholarship if I tried hard enough.”

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November, 1998


AFTER BEING NAMED Miss Missouri, she won the 1990 Miss America pageant, earned her degree as a doctor of veterinary medicine, and now works in television as co-host of "Show Me St. Louis." Beauty queen, animal doctor, TV personality -these are just a few of the hats Debbye Turner wears. Ask her to describe herself, and the answer she enthusiastically gives is "graced and redeemed."

Turner is a spirit-filled woman who greatly appreciates gifts from God, and her gratitude frequently spills over in conversation. She credits much of her spiritual outlook to her late mother, a single parent who raised two daughters in Jonesboro, Ark. Turner was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, during her father's tenure with the Army, and moved six times during her first five years. She was only 6 when her parents divorced.

My father traveled around the world finishing his military career, and we remained in Jonesboro," Turner explains. " A single parent household is all I ever really knew."

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By Lisa Nees

Most people know Debbye Turner as Miss America 1990, the motivational speaker, popular pageant emcee, and the dynamic TV host. However, there’s a lot more to the former Miss America than the many hats she currently wears.

Debbye was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and spent the first years of her life moving from place to place as a military child. Her father was an officer in the Army, so in the Turner Family, moving every few years was a common occurrence. Although she was only six years old when her parents amicably divorced, Debbye recalls a childhood filled with love, religion, and a closeness with both parents.

"Though times were not always easy," Debbye says, "one parent raising children doesn't automatically equal a dysfunctional family. I certainly don't think a single-parent household is the best situation. There should be two loving parents -a mother and a father - but in some homes that's not possible. Our mother knew the Lord. She loved Him and lived her life according to Biblical guidelines and faith."

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