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September 19th, 2005

R.I.P. Kelly Turner

My friend Kelly Turner passed away over the weekend. It was pretty unexpected; he entered the hospital last week with a very high fever, liver damage and seizures. They still don't know why. After being pronounced to have entered a permanent vegetative state, he was disconnected from his life support and peacefully passed away not long thereafter.

I hadn't seen Kelly in years, but in college we were half of a little Gang of Four (the other two members were Bill George, who eventually went on to win an Oscar for visual effects on Innerspace, and Bill's brother Bobby). Our favorite activity was to drive to L.A. (we all lived in San Diego at the time), and hit the trash dumpsters of productions companies, effects houses and movie studios. We had a blast, even if all we ever found was old coffee grounds; but sometimes we found stuff that taught us more about moviemaking than any college class could. Once we got caught dumpster-diving at ILM's Van Nuys facility - and they invited us in for a tour.

Eventually we all moved on to our various careers - Bill to ILM, Bobby to a company that builds submarines, me to whatever I've done, and Kelly surprised us all endlessly by marrying the woman every guy in our little circle was smitten by. The marriage lasted a few years, then they split, and Kelly moved on to a splendid career in computer gaming (he was working with Eidos when he died), and found happiness with a male partner. We never fell completely out of touch. Of our little group, Kelly and I lived the closest to each other (he was in Irvine, I was in North Hollywood), but somehow we never managed to hook up. We'd exchange e-mails and cards and promise to have lunch together soon. Recently, Kelly had contacted me about possibly writing a horror game for him. I was thrilled with that idea, of course, but happier about the prospect of working with an old friend, and sharing his success with him.

Kelly was a wonderful, enthusiastic and very talented man whose absence will be felt by many. I'm glad his partner Tom Grissinger was with him at the end, but damn...I'm really sorry I won't get to see him now. Here's a photo of the Kelly I will forever remember (appropriately enough, this is outside a trash dumpster circa 1977). R.I.P., my friend.