Richard Eugene "Dick" Turkelson

Born:Mar 27 1940 In:  Richland Center, Wis.
Died:Apr 17 1982 (at age 42)In:  Ft.Lauderdale, Fl


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Immediate family

<Private> Turkelson (born Pryce)
His spouse
His child
His child
Hans Edward "Ed" Turkelson
His father
Jessie Matilda Turkelson (born Carter-Hoover)
His mother
Betty Jane Harwood (born Turkelson)
His sister
Barbara Jean "Barb" Emshoff (born Turkelson)
His sister
<Private> Turkelson
His sibling
<Private> Turkelson
His sibling
<Private> Turkelson
His sibling
<Private> Larson (born Turkelson)
His sibling



On a Summer Day

This near tragedic event occurred on a hot July afternoon.

The heat of this day may well have been an indirect cause of this particular event.

I and my two younger brothers were laying under the shade of a tall Norway spruce,

when an idea came. Sence I liked to dig in sand, building roads, bridges, tunnels and

the sort, We all three made the long hot climb to the cool moist sand pit.

I had been taught early in life that sand was no place for tunneling, but the heat of the

day, and the cool feeling that the moist sand gave me the urge to contimue.

Sence I unconsciously knew the dangers involved, I made the

remark to one of my brothers that this might be the last time

that I would see that hot bright shinning sun. I stuped and

crawlled on hands and knees the length of the now eight foot long

winding tunnel.

When I reached the end I immediatly began work, using my hands

and some old ten cans. While enlarging part of the lower right

hand cornor, I heard what I thought was a hand ful of sand fall

by my side. Turning just in time I was able to see the entire

extent of the tunnel clasping forcing me down on my side.

It seemed to me that I must have been stuned for the moment,

for when I opened my eyes, I saw a bright pin point of light shinning

down upon me which illumineated the small hole which my head and

one arm were laying. How long I lay there I couldn't say but all

that while this anglic light contimued.

Suddenly the outside light pored in and I saw pair of large

hands grasping my shoulders, they pushed, they pulled forcing me

upward out of my grave.

Sence than I have felt a deep love for the Lord, for I know

he was there calming my frightened spirit. If

I had not had this light to watch over me to keep me from panicing

I am sure that I would not have came out of it alive.


**** HELP TO RESCUE RICHARD INCLUDES, Donald calling everyone to come

& Hilman and Leslie, They called us to the top of hill to help

Dick was buryied in a cave in of sand from tunneling. Barbara and

Betty ran to see what to do, it was very difficult, we got to his

sholdiers & pulled all we could, but the sand was packed & wet

& kept pouring back into the hole after we dug it out, We called

Francis Dalberg to help us, we were getting very tired & time was

important. He helped us get him to the house & gave him a bath to

wash the sand off, there was only cold water available for the

emergency bath, then put im to bed to rest, Then Jessie & Edward (Parent)

came back by car from Richland Center, Wisconsin, for groceryies & etc.

The bath water was cold because we only heated water in cook stove

reservoir and through the wood furnace pipes going through and this

was in the middle of summer, maybe July 1950 “Signed Betty Harwood note”

Dear Betty,

Thank you for sending the typed description of Dick's burial in the sand in 1950.

The school picture of Dick looks to be a 6 or 7 year old, and the event described is of

Dick when he was 10. Do you have a 10 year old picture of him?

The hand writing in the upper right looks like mom's.

I have some different recollections other than what you wrote on the bottom.

I think you were the main one pulling on Dick's straps, or was that Francis Dalberg?

I remember the story as follows:

When the sand cavern caved in, Don told Leslie, you dig fast and I will run for help. When Don was coming down the hill, he was calling to Betty and Barbara to come and help, which they did immediately. I was not there, I was with mom and dad. I think we had to take the magneto from the WC Allis Chalmers tractor to Prestergard Farm Equipment to have it repaired.

I think you Betty, started to dig at the beginning of the tunnel, but Leslie told you that Dick was over here, some distance from the entrance. You then saw the need for more help and you told Barbara to call for Francis to come and help.

Dad told me that Francis had just been to our place to return the cement mixer that he had borrowed, so when Barbara went to the old crank phone to call him, he had just returned home and was there at the house, and could come immediately. If this had not been so, Dick would have suffocated before you got him out.

When Dad, Mom and I returned home, Dick was lying on the couch mom had made in the dinning room. When Dad asked him how he was, he was very vague. I remember he had raw lines on his shoulders from the pulling on the straps of his coveralls, which Dad thought saved him by giving him artificial respiration when you were pulling on him.

This is my recollection, I would like to hear from Don and Leslie as well.

Love Ed 9/3/09

Betty’s reply 9/3/09

Hi Everybody when Dick was buried in the sand. Hilman could you send Donald a copy what I sent to you? I sent one to Beverly, you and Leslie and Tammy.

Hillman I thought you were in town with Mom & Dad when this happened. I didn't remember you helping Barbara and I when we were digging side by side over Dick in the wet sand where we hear Dick was moaning. He was on his knees and the sand was wet packed around him. Barb & I dug until we could see the bib overall straps we thought we could help pull him out that way. Barb and I could not budge him so we both took separate straps to both pull the same time. We got no where doing that so we kept digging. Worried about running out of time we call Francis Dahlberg to come and help. I think one of us stayed and dug while the other called Francis. Barb & I was getting tired digging so we needed help and that was why we called Francis.

Dick head was still covered bent down from weight of sand. All we had available to dig him out was tin cans the boys built the original cave. I seen it a few days before and they had dug a long tunnel with several openings, Richard, Leslie & Donald each had a opening they each used but it was all connected together. I told the boys when I seen their tunnel they should be careful, because the sand was wet and it was drying out then. I warned them it could cave in when it was dry.

Francis helped dig Dick where his head was and then he could be lifted out of the sand. Dick was turning blue and Beverly was around 5 years old said she remembered that too & I was probably around 15 yrs & Barb around 13 yrs.

Francis thought if Dick walked down the hill to the farm house while Francis held onto him would help him get oxgen in his lungs. Dick was covered all over his face and skin and clothes with wet sand.

We had no hot water heater and Francis told Dick he needed cleaned up and take his sand covered clothes off and gave him a bath in cold water in the tub. Then Francis helped Dick in and out to tub and dressed him and helped him lay down on the bed in dinning room. Dick was shivering and cold from the experience and shock.

That's when Mom & Dad and you came home when Dick was laying down. It is a miracle he survived it was to close in losing him

I think Dick wrote the top type written area and sign it with his signature. Mother added the top note. I sent Hilman the original copy. I added the bottom not in another type writer several years ago after I found that article then and saved it.

I was told after Dick was buried in sand he was falling out of bed at night while he was sleeping. After Dick married Carol and they were on there Honeymoon Dick had a seizure and it scared her and she called for help to get him to the Doctor. That was probably was when they found out he had Grand mall epilepsy and doctored for it for several years. Maybe this cause his epilepsy seizures after his experience buried in the sand.

This is Leslie’s account 9/3/09

Ed, Betty & Don -

Considering this happened almost 60 years ago........... this is my version as I recall it: (as transcribed to Janet!!!):

My memories are similar to Ed's........We each were digging tunnels (more than a 1 day project) & were trying to connect Dick's tunnel & my tunnel together, meeting in the middle. While I was digging in my tunnel, Don yelled saying that Dick's tunnel had caved in. I came out of my tunnel & looked & sure enough, there was no longer an opening to Dick's tunnel. We both started digging to get to Dick, which seemed to be an impossible task for us. So Don told me to dig fast & he would run for help. He left me to dig & I did the best I could (for my age, probably 8). Not getting very far with digging, I went to see if someone was coming. Betty & Barb & Don & I dug as well as we could but weren't doing very well, so Barb went to call Francis for help. When he arrived, we had still not gotten to Dick. Francis picked up a broken handled shovel (just the scoop part which was rusty) & frantically began digging to get Dick out. I was afraid that he would hit Dick's body with the shovel blade & I cautioned him about that. His reply was, we MUST get him out of that we all quit digging at that point & let him dig. Francis was the one that reached Dick's pants straps & tried to pull him up out of the sand & was finally able to get him out. I think Francis may have

helped Dick walk down to the house. I remember him getting cleaned up, but don't remember that it was cold water. I'm not sure why the water was cold, unless Francis asked for cold water, because I think we had a water heater in those days!

A few years later, I remember when Dick & I were crossing the field, I was driving the tractor & Dick was on the trailer. When we got to the other end of the field, which would have been about where Dad committed suicide, I stopped & looked back & Dick wasn't on the trailer. Soon he came walking up & said that he had blacked out & had fallen off the trailer. That would have been the first time that I remember he had a problem with blacking out.

Also, I agree with Ed that the picture at the top of the page is of Dick at a younger age than 10 & that the writing is Mom's, so Dick's age would be correct. Did Betty add the picture or Mom add it?

I'm anxious to hear Don's version too - I'm thinking the truth, which we probably will never know, is somewhere between what all of us remembered :>)

Leslie Turkelson


349 Juniper St.

Brooklyn, WI 53521


Betty’s reply on 9/4/09

Leslie it was interesting your version of when Dick was buried in sand. I feel we were very lucky Dick survived this close call.

Barbara and I both pulled on Richard bib overall straps, they were exposed before Francis came to help.

We didn't have a electric water heater during this time. Francis didn't want to bath Richard in cold water but had no choice.

For a few years we had hot water from boiler on the cook stove, but this was summer and it was not being used at that time. We also had water pipes strung through our large furnace in basement to heat water from the water tank against the wall from the spring to the facet. Later we had a electric water heater set on timer and it heated on off peak time.

I added the picture? I felt that picture was as close as I could find when I put it on this article. Beverly remembers this experience and she remembered Richard dark in color too and all of us trying to help.

You were right there was a lot of sand to be removed, his back and legs were covered and his head lower than his shoulders

Donald called us from the hill, and the doors and windows were open so we heard him calling us to hurry Richard is buried in the sand. Love Betty

Don’s remembrance of the event on 9/6/09

As I recall events around Dick's burial in sand:

Leslie, Dick and Don, were all in the operation. We had dug, starting a day before this. So, we had significant size digging on 2 tunnels.

What is an amazing event is that just before the cave in, all of us were in the tunnels digging.

Had the cave in happened then, no one would have been around to assist us as we were by our selves in the sand pile on the Hill.

Dad, Mom and Hilman had gone to Richland Center to repair a part on the tractor WC Allis Chalmers.

What took place just before the incident, Dick, Les and I were on top preparing to call it a day, when Leslie noticed he was missing his handkerchief. So, Dick decided to go in for it.

As he was in the tunnel Les and I were just sitting on sand waiting for him to return, when we observed the sand sinking and closing the opening.

I assume Dick found the handkerchief, started to turn around and arched his back, striking the top of the tunnel and causing the sand to give way.

He was found in a crouched position, perhaps leaving a small air pocket. Prior to Francis coming, Betty and Barb had reached his suspenders and back. Pulling back forth on him maybe assisting him in some way to gain more air is uncertain of what was going on then. Time was of essence.

But as they pulled him out he had sand in his mouth, nose and face.

As was mentioned, I told Leslie, “Dig fast as I go for help”. I was about 6.5 then.

Others have filled in what took place. Francis had been at our farm just before this to bring back a farm equipment he had borrowed. So, he was near his house when called. Making it possible for him to arrive more quickly than if he had been in the field.

God was certainly with us then to allow us to have Dick back and to prevent total loss of 3 young boys before this if sand had caved in sooner.


TURKELSON, Richard Eugene 1940 1982 03-27-1940 04-17-1982~b

Married Carol Pryce on April 25, 1964.~b

Son of Hans Edward & Jessie Matilda (Carter) Turkelson.~b

iv. Richard Eugene Turkelson, born March 27, 1940 in Richland County, WI; died April 17, 1982 in Fort Lauderdale, FL; married Carol Kay Pryce April 25, 1964; born April 24, 1943.

Notes for Richard Eugene Turkelson:

The Richland Observer

Obituary Index


Name on Obituary Birth date Death date Maiden name R.O. Date Mom's maiden

Turkelson, Richard Eugene 1940-03-27 1982-04-17 1982-04-22 Carter

More About Richard Eugene Turkelson:

Cause of Death: Electrocution

Occupation: Electrician, Bell Telephone Supervisor

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