Vale Ron Turton: Former Champion manager remembered

The Moree Champion has lost one of its own champions with the death of former manager Ron Turton.

A longtime Champion employee, Ron passed away on Monday last week following a battle with cancer.

Ron's experience in the media industry had spanned more than 40 years, including a quarter of a century at the Moree Champion.

Over the years he saw countless changes from the days of hot metal, offset printing to computers and then the digital age.

Before coming to Moree he had spent time working at The Northern Daily Leader at Tamworth, the Daily Mirror in Sydney, and had got his start in the southern highlands, in the early 1970s.

With a background in accounts, that's where Ron started at the Berrima Post in 1971, but with the advertising manager having to take leave without a replacement the 'new kid on the block' was thrown into the deep end and told to go and sell ads.

Getting that opportunity would be one of the best things that ever happened in Ron's life, he later said.

Ronnie's sales skills were so good in fact, the paper later went from being a bi-weekly to a tri-weekly.

After that stint in the bush, the city beckoned, and in 1979 Ron went to Sydney for an interview with the Daily Mirror. The paper, owned by Rupert Murdoch, was the highest selling daily paper in the state. Ron was hired on the spot.

Ron Turton clocked up 25 years at the Champion before his retirement in 2014.

Ron Turton clocked up 25 years at the Champion before his retirement in 2014.

Ron started phone blowing for features for a few months and quickly became features manager. After 18 months he became assistant advertising manager.

From there it was a whole new ball game with Ron landing all the big agencies.

At the time Ron was mates with Murdoch's nephew, Matt Handbury, who had worked in New York and on the Northern Territory News, and was managing The Northern Daily Leader in Tamworth.

It was Matt who would send Ron to northern NSW, offering him a role at the Tamworth paper.

Later describing it as the hardest decision he had made, Ron made the move to Tamworth and started as the advertising and marketing manager at the NDL in 1981, taking his top training from the big smoke to the country reps.

Despite having a successful time at Tamworth, Ron's goal of becoming an advertising manager at a major metro paper seemed far away. But after two-and-a-half years Ron got a phone call to work at the new Daily Sun in Brisbane.

It was Murdoch's newest paper and Ron arrived on their first birthday.

Within weeks he was appointed advertising manager and after two-and-a-half years he was appointed marketing co-ordinator of the Dailyand Sunday Sun.

During that time the paper was the first in Australia to have full colour in their pages.

In 1987 Ronnie got the urge to travel, so he set off overseas and when he returned he decided he wanted to get back to the country.

A mate told him about a job at Moree, and Ron knew the opportunities in the district after having travelled there while working on the NDL.

He hopped on the bus and went for an interview with the manager, the late Jim Lemmon who told him he needed to meet one of the owners, Geoff Farrar.

Ron was given the job and attended the local races that afternoon where both Jim and Geoff had horses running so he backed them, and they won.

"So I got off to a good start in Moree," Ron would later say.

Ron had his very first day at the Moree Champion on September 19, 1988. He was always early to work, getting in before 8.30am in Brisbane.

He got off to a flying start in Moree. Trying to impress the boss he thought he'd get in 20 minutes early.

He got in and Jim was standing there, hands on hips... 'You're 10 minutes late', he exclaimed!

Ron was appointed site manager in 2007, a position he held until his retirement in February 2014.

Under his leadership the newspaper won multiple awards in sales, journalism, and print and design.

A celebration and send-off for Ron Turton will be held in Moree on Friday this week, from 2pm to 5pm. A venue will be determined once numbers have been confirmed.

To attend please RSVP Glenda Bulmer at Moree Champion by 4pm Wednesday on 0438 590 371.