In the news are numerous articles of the chaos in the Trump White House evidenced of the shouting matches between White House staff and Cabinet Members. Such articles have been the source of much amusement because they reminded me of my time with the Mickelson Administration as Director of Finance in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Governor Mickelson encouraged free and often passionate conversation to ensure all ideas were expressed. All he expected was it was over when it was over often affirmed at Bob’s Lounge.
But with recent newsof the death of State Representative and Deadwood Mayor Chuck Turbiville, those memories of fighting in the office has become precious. I never knew if he was laughing with me or laughing at me but, in either case, I didn’t care. Chuck was too filled with joy to not let either be a good thing.
In 1987, when I joined GOED, among my colleagues was Chuck, who was the Director of the Division which was responsible for the recruiting of new companies to South Dakota. Often Chuck and I traveled together to meet with prospects both in- and out-of-state so we had many hours to discuss personal matters from his recent divorce, raising kids, values, faith, and so on. You know the things friends talk about.
Yet, at the same time, we couldn’t have been more unlikely friends- he the consummate sales guy with an outgoing, humorous, friendly demeanor while I was the dry, frank, its all in the numbers guy. Once we were in a hotel room watching a baseball game and I’m jabbering about this statistic or whatever and Chuck says “Do you talk like this when you watch a game by yourself?” After I shut up, Chuck started yapping telling jokes about growing up in Newell with an occasional reference to the baseball game. My point is for Chuck every moment with another was about being with another. He resisted letting a baseball game on tv be more than background.
At work, our divisions had the most interaction and often the most inherent disagreement. So often were Chuck and I arguing that they became part of the furniture in the office. But, what was not routine was how good Chuck was at making sure they weren’t personal. A couple of times a month, Chuck made chili or some other similar meal which we ate at his apartment over the noon hour.
I recall one particular morning our argument was particularly “heated.” When I got back to my office, I presumed our lunch that noon would not happen. I had maybe crossed a line or two. He too. But, a few minutes before noon, Chuck bounded in my office with his big smile and said “Hey, let’s get out of here a bit early. I’ve spent the morning arguing with a knucklehead (not the word used).”
Chuck and I went our separate ways after the Mickelson plane crash. Several years ago when I saw he was running for the Legislature I decided to touch base with my old colleague. We played phone tag for a few days. When he finally answered he said, “Why do you keep calling me? Don’t tell me you are moving to Deadwood.” We then had a really nice conversation mostly about our families. When I told him something sad, he said all the things only a dear friend could say.
Most people knew Chuck as a public servant. Many got to call him friend. But, only three got to call him “Dad.” I got a glimpse of “Dad” during our noon meals in his apartment. While I was eating, he was often folding clothes, preparing the evening meal, and doing the day-to-day chores of being a single parent. Chuck Turbiville did those things with more joy than you ever saw in his other roles and that is saying much.
May the soul of Chuck Turbiville, by the Mercy of God, Rest in Peace.