PROSPECT HEIGHTS, NY — There was something missing at Underhill Playground, where children and parents flocked after the first day back to school, according to DNAinfo.
The playground is the same, but one face was missing from the crowd of children playing and parents watching: Custodian and Parks Department employee John Turner, the article stated.
According to the article, Turner, 62, quietly retired from his position within the department in the spring in order to focus on a battle with pancreatic cancer.
"Where's Mr. John?" asked Zoe Barner, a seven-year-old who on Thursday was among the throngs of children who went searching for Turner, a man who had been as much a part of Underhill as the trees, the flagpole and the mosaics on the restroom wall.
"It's a big absence. All the kids here grew up with him," said Zoe's father and longtime friend Thomas Barner.
Turner developed a reputation as something of a secret superhero after he "sprang into action when shots rang out across the street from the crowded playground in early 2008, shepherding parents and children to safety in the park house, doubling back after he'd secured them inside to make sure he hadn't missed anyone," the article noted.