My dad was a farmer with the heart of a social worker


Howard Turck was born on September 4, 1923, and died on July 30, 2015 at Dassel Lakeside Nursing Home. He will be remembered at a wake at Johnson-Hagglund Funeral Home on Sunday, August 2 from 4-8 p.m. The funeral will be at St. Gertrude’s Catholic Church in Forest City on Monday, August 3 at 10:30 a.m.


He lived his whole life in Meeker County, except for his army service in Korea. Howard farmed the Turck family farm in Forest City Township, as did his father and grandfather before him, and his son after him. He was active in his church, St. Gertrude’s Catholic Church in Forest City, and in the community, serving in various ways in the Meeker County DFL, Farmers’ Union, REA board, Cenex board, Meeker County Park Board, Meeker County Planning and Zoning Commission, FHA board, USDA crop surveying, Township assessor for seven townships, Toastmasters, Pioneerland Library board, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, and New Ulm Diocesan Pastoral Council.


Howard started preaching politics when he was seven or eight years old. During milking time, he’d stand up on a manger and preach about the Great Depression. He’d preach about the big shots who didn’t care about the little guys and left poor people to go hungry. His dad, milking cows, would egg him on to greater rhetorical heights. That might have been the start of his political career, which was one of service rather than elected office.


Howard found a life partner in family, service and farming in his wife, Millie Erpelding, of Cold Spring. He met her at a dance in Cold Spring in 1946, asked her out to a ball game the same week, corresponded with her during his two years in the army, married her on September 28, 1949, and loved her until the day he died.


Howard graduated from Litchfield High School, Class of 1941, and played on the LHS baseball team that won the state championship. Howard dreamed about playing major league baseball and about going off to college and the city, but he ended up living his whole life in Meeker County, except for his army service in Korea. He made his home on the family farm in Forest City Township, literally as well as figuratively – he and his dad dug the foundation for the house by hand, one shovel full of heavy clay dirt after another. He knew every square foot of the farm, where to fish for bullheads and crappies and sunnies, where to find the deer and pheasants and ducks in the fall, as well as the wood post in the lane where the bluebirds nested in the spring, and the places wild grapes grew on the back forty.


Though he left college after a year, returning to the farm to support the war effort, Howard never stopped learning. He applied scientific methods to farming, from sprouting seed corn in damp newspapers to tracking the pedigrees and production of cattle to rotating crops and carefully tending the land that passed down from his Grandpa Jake to Henry and Mary Turck and then to Howard and Millie and on to Steve and Joan, for a fourth generation on the home farm.


Besides farming, Howard Turck kept reading, with an omnivorous interest that ranged from Dostoevsky to Dale Carnegie. He passed that love of learning down to ten children, along with lessons about keeping your eye on the ball, in baseball and in life.


Years of work as a township assessor, as well as his political involvement, kept him immersed in the community. He never passed up an opportunity for coffee and conversation, especially if that included a piece of pie.


Howard is survived by his wife, Millie Turck of Forest City; children Mary Turck (Ron Salzberger) of St. Paul; Steve (Joan) Turck of Forest City; Voni (Rick) Cameron of Richfield; Becky (Ed) Palmer of Plymouth; Annette (Jeff) Peterson of St. Paul; Jeanine (Dan) Moore of Cold Spring; Lori Woolard of Forest City; Kenny (Joni) Turck of Litchfield; and Kevin Turck of Moose Lake; brother-in-law Chuck Henrie of Hoyt, Kansas; by dozens of nieces and nephews, including Mark (Fabiola) Reis-Henrie of Lenexa, Kansas; and by 20 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren (and counting).


Howard was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Mary Turck, sister Helen Henrie, daughter Kathy (K/T) and grandson David Sikkila.





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