‘A sweet, humble person’: Family remembers father of two killed in shooting


Joseph Turnipseed, Jr. was killed in a shooting on Friday. One arrest has been made so far in the investigation (Courtesy photo)

By: 
Ryan Phillips
SDN Editor

Known as “Seed” to his friends, “Doc” to his family and “Nish” to his Mama, Joseph Turnipseed, Jr., is most fondly remembered as a caring son and loving father of two. 

Turnipseed, 33, was found shot to death in his car near a Starkville apartment complex on Friday and while an arrest has been made in the case, Turnipseed’s death left a void the family says will be impossible to fill. 

But considering the heart-wrenching circumstances of losing a loved one as the family sat together on Tuesday, the stories about Turnipseed brought more laughs and smiles to the surface than tears. 

ALL IN THE FAMILY 

“When he was first born I would call him my ‘Nishy Bishy Baby,’” Turnipseed’s mother Wanda Carter said. “As he got older, I couldn’t call him that so I dropped everything but the Nish. He was always Nish to me, but couldn’t too many people call him that. I could always call him that and he would never say anything.” 

Carter described her son as the family jokester who loved children and the elderly. 

But despite a tough outer exterior, Carter said Nish would instantly become her little boy again whenever the two would talk, which was practically every day. 

“I would text him …  I would always say ‘I love you Nish’ and he would always say ‘I love you Mama,” she said. “He would always tell me.” 

Carter’s baby boy would grow into a man — the father of a 10-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter — who attended Starkville High School and later graduated from the now closed B.L. Moor High School in Crawford in 2005. 

Turnipseed’s father, Joseph Turnipseed, Sr., said his son worked odd jobs and took special pride in his signature blue car. 

“We would be sitting around, he would always say ‘Come on, go ride with me,’” the father said. “He never would let no one else (ride with him), but would always tell me ‘Let’s go ride.’”

Both Joseph Sr. and Carter also recalled their son’s love of music, despite his own humorous lack of musical ability.

“He loved music, but he couldn’t dance a lick,” Carter laughed.  

“Every night, same time he’s going to come through with that music in that car,” Joseph Sr. added. “When he cranked the car up that’s all you heard.” 

While his love for music seemed to be engrained into the fiber of his being, Turnipseed’s development as a parent came over time, which his own parents saw firsthand. 

Carter described her son as a devoted and loving father, who saw reflections of himself in his son, including similar behavior when he was a young boy. 

“He loved them babies now, his son, he is kind of rowdy, but I have always said no one could handle him like my son could,” Carter said. “Someone who he could really count on was his Dad. Growing up I saw a lot of him in his son.” 

RICH IN MEMORIES 

Few family members could count themselves as close to Turnipseed as his grandmother, Mary Kelly, who holds in her heart a treasure trove of stories about the boy she called “Doc.” 

Now, if you ask her today, she couldn’t tell you where the nickname came from. It was one of those nicknames that just stuck, apparently. 

“My sister, she’s in a nursing home now. He would come over and just stay at her, when he would come over and not say anything to her, she always expected him to get at her, but when he came over and didn’t say nothing to her, she would say, ‘Hey boy’ and he would say ‘You wan’t me to get at you now?’ and she would say ‘Nah boy, hell no, I don’t want you to say nothing to me.’”

It was that kind of playful nature that Turnipseed’s family remembers most, especially his grandmother. 

“We all have a family gathering for Thanksgiving, usually the younger kids would eat in the kitchen but with him being over there he got his food and went to the dining room and they followed him in there, laughing and talking. I went back there and said ‘What are ya’ll laughing at?’”
The kids said they were laughing at “Doc,” who was prone to carry on with the little ones around him, being a father himself. 

“I said ya’ll gotta calm down, and I went back in the kitchen,” Kelly said. “About 25-30 minutes later they started up again. He was sitting up there eating and they were sitting there all around him just laughing. I said ‘Didn’t I tell ya’ll to stop that noise back there,’ and they said ‘Tell Doc to be quiet,’ I said “Ya’ll know Doc don’t ever be quiet.’”

Even with the cloud of grief hanging over the family, holiday memories and stories brought smiles to faces and dried tears, if even for a short time. 

Looking back on her grandson as a young boy, a favorite memory is connected to bath time. 

“He was scared of everything, especially taking a bath and getting his hair washed,” Kelly said with a smile. “They had to hold him down and I would wash his hair. We had to set a time to wash his hair … I’ve never seen a child so scared to get a bath.”

Carter recalled her son’s rebellious side as a youngster, remembering with a laugh how she found out he had his ear pierced. 

She said she noticed a small hole in  his ear and confronted him about it. 

“He would turn that way, turn that way, kept turning so I couldn’t see it, so I grabbed him and noticed he had a pierced hole in his ear,” Carter said. “He said ‘When I laid my head down on a desk, there was a thumbtack on the desk and that’s how I got the piercing.’” 

A LONG ROAD AHEAD 

Dealing with the untimely death of a loved one isn’t something a family can be equipped for, and the loved ones grieving the death of Turnipseed all acknowledge it will not be easy living with the reminders of a life taken too soon. 

“Lord it hurts,” Kelly said. “My son was killed in 1987 and Lord it hurt so bad, and it hurt for so long, then when this came along, it was like it was happening again.” 

The family mentioned the possibility of a candlelight vigil at McKee Park in the coming week and the Starkville Daily News will publish details if and when the event is confirmed, in addition to services, which are tentatively set for Feb. 23 at Sixteenth Section Missionary Baptist Church. 
Turnipseed leaves behind a girlfriend, Rosalind A. Moore, who thanked the “Master for sending me my angel.” 

“Joseph was a kind, loving person but most of all he was very humble,” she said. “He did make mistakes in the past, but we all are human. In that time of him learning from his mistakes, he changed and became a better person.” 

She then called Turnipseed a loving son and a loving father who loved his community. 

“This truly is devastating and I just hate it,” Moore said. “I’m just too grateful I had a chance to experience what true love was and Joseph, Bay, you’ll forever be with me.” 

Carter also said it would be impossible for life to go back to what it was before her son’s death, but reiterated how thankful she was for the time she spent with her son and the memories she will hold for the rest of her life. 

“He’s just going to always be on my mind,” the grieving, but proud, mother said. “I know there will be more tears, more sleepless nights. I haven’t been able to rest or eat good since it happened.”

When looking at the totality of the situation, removed from the headlines and other painful details of the case, what is left in the wake is a grieving family still searching and praying for answers. 

But hope remains in the countless memories left behind. 

“I know it’s going to be a lot more of those days, but he’s never going to be far from my thoughts,” Carter said as tears gathered. “He was 33 years old, but was still my Nishy Bishy Baby.” 

 

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