Melvin A. Turbak, 97, of Watertown

WATERTOWN — Melvin A. Turbak, 97, passed away June 18, 2022, at Jenkins Living Center.

Funeral services will be at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Kranzburg Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

Visitation at Wight & Comes Funeral Chapel on Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. will be followed by a rosary service at 7 p.m.

Melvin was born August 4, 1924, in Kranzburg, the third of A.B. and Anna (Schweinfurt) Turbak’s 12 children. He attended Holy Rosary School in Kranzburg for 10 years before graduating from Goodwin High School in 1941 at the age of 16. Too young to enlist when the U.S. entered WWII, Melvin worked with his brother Jerome for United Airlines in Cheyenne, Wyo., modifying B-17 bombers. A year later they were accepted as aviation cadets, and in September 1943 they proudly enlisted in the Army Air Corps.    

While home on leave in October 1944, Melvin married his high school sweetheart Grace Sherman in a double wedding with Jerome and Cecilia Zaug. Grace finished her year as a teacher, then joined Melvin at LaJunta, Colo., where he and Jerome were training as bombardiers. They were in final training in Big Spring, Texas when the war ended and they were discharged.

Returning to Kranzburg, Melvin and Jerome soon began working for their father at Farmers State Bank. Eventually they took over the bank’s ownership. They ran the bank for decades, walking to and from work together every day for almost 40 years. In 1983 they sold the bank and retired. Melvin also had long been postmaster, and he retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 1984.

Melvin and Jerome were lifelong companions who lived most of their lives as business partners, neighbors, and the best of friends. They shared many hobbies, travel adventures, and years of daily golf as retirees. Melvin also enjoyed countless hours hunting, fishing, bowling, or playing cards with brothers Butch and Larry, who also lived nearby.  

Grace was forever his love and best friend. In 1954, they built a home in Kranzburg where their seven children grew to adulthood. Their 16 grandchildren all loved spending time there. Melvin was a busy and innovative man who gardened, grew fruit trees, took great pride in his yard, and for a time kept bees. He enjoyed fishing and was an avid hunter, one of the first area men to hunt deer with a bow and arrow. His sons and most of his grandsons were privileged to be schooled by him in the outdoors. He was a patient man whose hobbies included wood carving, reloading ammunition, and building or repairing much of what was needed around the home.  

Melvin was blessed with exceptional intelligence and a phenomenal memory, both of which served him well throughout his life, whether helping local patrons who sought advice at the bank or competing with friends and family at cards. He inherited his father’s almost comic frugality, but he also had a generous spirit and he lovingly shared with others both materially and in the simple joys of smiles and conversation. Through faithfully planned annual road trips, he taught his family to appreciate the natural world and to take pride in South Dakota and its people.

Melvin and Grace enjoyed many happy years of retirement, including travel throughout the U.S., to the Holy Land, and to Mexico City. They also shared the heartbreak of losing their two oldest sons, Gary in 2004 and Douglas in 2014. In 2016, Melvin and Grace moved to 200 Maple Place in Watertown. Grace was hospitalized a short time later and died in September 2016. Melvin continued to enjoy their friends at Maple Place until he moved to Jenkins in March 2021.

He is survived by his brother, Larry; five children: Marlene (Bill) Fullerton of Huron, Nancy of Watertown, Tad (Julie Cole) of Kranzburg, Tracy (Annemarie) of Sioux Falls, and Jill (Willie) Janvrin of Eagan, Minn.; his daughter-in-law, Janette of Missoula, Mont.; 16 grandchildren; and 28 great grandchildren.

He is preceded in death by his wife, two sons, four brothers, and six sisters.
The family requests that memorials be directed to McCrossan Boys Ranch or Holy Rosary Catholic Church.

Arrangements by Wight & Funeral Chapel in Watertown-


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