Toronto Star journalist Barbara Turnbull died on May 10 from complications related to pneumonia. She was 50 years old. Turnbull was gunned down in 1983 during a convenience store robbery, a violent incident that left her quadriplegic. Following her inspirational recovery, Turnbull attended Arizona State University and obtained a BA in journalism. She graduated in 1990 and joined the Star shortly afterwards as a general assignment reporter. Turnbull was with the paper for over two decades, writing most recently for the Life section on a variety of health topics such as organ and tissue donation and transplantation and accessibility issues. She founded The Barbara Turnbull Foundation to generate support for Canadian research on spinal cord injuries through which she raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for research. In 2012 Turnbull was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Turnbull’s colleagues at the Star remembered a journalist who became an institution, tenaciously advocating for causes that she understood like few others. “I covered that story the night she was shot,” recalled senior columnist Rosie DiManno. “In the years since, I’ve been in awe over what Barb accomplished as a journalist and how she lived her life. She was kind and generous and funny, and without bitterness. She also had great hope for the promise of spinal cord injury research.”