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Kotrba-Smith Funeral Home

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101 Gerkin
Gregory, SD 57533
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Memories & Candles

“I did not know Mr. Turnquist, but reading his obituary was a amazing experience. What a wonderful outlook on life he must have had!Please accept my...Read More »
1 of 10 | Posted by: Virginia Larimer - Oelwein, IA

“Your family is in our thoughts and prays. Love John and Mandy ”
2 of 10 | Posted by: John Stubbs - Summerville, GA

“Life is short ~ love is long God speed your soul Don to your final resting place in God's Kingdom ”
3 of 10 | Posted by: Yvette Weickum Fitzgerald - TX

“My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Donald was a very special man - he will be missed by many ”
4 of 10 | Posted by: Kathy Bertram Baker - Albuquerque, NM

“What a beautiful story in words and pictures of a truly happy life well lived. ”
5 of 10 | Posted by: Carol Moyer - Colome, SD - Friend

“Dear Turnquist Family, Please accept our deepest sympathy in the loss of your Dad. I admired Don for many years. He was a true American and was so...Read More »
6 of 10 | Posted by: Glenn & Cindy Sealey - Colome, SD

“Condolences to the family. I have fond memories of him and the rest of the family. Diana (Kinzer) Syfie ”
7 of 10 | Posted by: Diana Syfie - Ainsworth, NE

“I am sadden to hear about the passing of Grandpa Turn. My thoughts and prayers go to the family of this wonderful man. ”
8 of 10 | Posted by: Tracy Klein - Blaine, MN

“My condolences on Don's passing. Don and the whole Turnquist family are about as close as you can get to family without being related. He will be...Read More »
9 of 10 | Posted by: Chad Jerred - Elizabeth, CO

“Don was always ready with a quick smile and a story. I always enjoyed visiting with him and hearing about some piece of Wewela history. One of the...Read More »
10 of 10 | Posted by: Richard and Juanita (Cole) Petrson - SD


Donald John Turnquist was delivered by a midwife in his parent's home on January 12, 1919 in Ardmore, South Dakota to Oscar John and Francis Henrietta (Gardner) Turnquist. He attended grade school near his family home spending much time with his beloved grandmother, Johanna Wilhemenia (Karlson) Turnquist. He graduated from high school in Edgemont, SD in 1937. During his high school years, he lived with his sister Frances and at one time in a railroad car. His desire and drive for education was passed on to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

In 1938 Donald's folks sold their home and moved to the farm they had purchased near Wewela. This was an auspicious move for Donald as it was there he met the love of his life, Imogene Pearl Smith. Being told about a young beautiful school marm, Donald set out to meet her. Since he was a trapper, he used a ruse of "looking for a coyote caught in his trap" to capture her attention. This initial meeting was the beginning of a love affair for the ages. Although Imogene attempted to run him off several times, he finally was able to persuade her to become his and put a ring on her finger (purchased with funds from his trapping) on December 27, 1941.

Donald and Imogene were separated soon after due to the breakout of World War II. When he realized his number was soon-to-be up, Donald decided he would not be forced into service and walked across the street to enlist in the Navy in September of 1942. He was shipped overseas the following year and did not return home until November of 1945. During this time, he was one of many who crossed the English Channel on D-Day and helped to ensure the freedom of our great country. During his military service, he achieved the rank of Motor Machinist Mate, 1st class and became a daddy. Donald found out about his first born when his commander brought him a telegram and a box of cigars. In his later years, he loved to relate stories about maintaining the ships and adventures he had during the war.

Following the war, Donald returned home and purchased a farm in February of 1946 just southeast of Wewela. On this farm, he and Imogene raised their five children: Donna, Ronnie, Larry, Roger and Nancy. Although he worked hard, he always found time to be a part of his children's lives traveling to sporting events, 4-H and any other activity they were involved in. Baseball was one of his favorites. In 1955, the Wewela Little League was started. His brother-in-law, Oscar Smith, and he proudly stepped up to become the league's first coaches. Donald's love of baseball and sports never ended. He coached his children, followed his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and related many stories about traveling to games or how a game could have ended differently.

Donald was never happier than when he was tinkering with machinery or working in his garden. His produce was exceptional in taste and quantity. Each year his garden got a little bigger and Imogene threatened a little more if she had to can or freeze one more thing. He enjoyed many projects with his grandchildren and imparting his wisdom on gardening, mechanics, cattle and politics. During his last summer, he assisted with a garden outside of Silver Threads. This was not a very successful transition. According to Don, the soil there was not right and definitely not deep enough to produce good tomatoes.

As an active member of the Colome American Legion, Post 146, he served as Commander and was influential in building the present home of this Post. He walked in many a parade as part of the Color Guard during his 71 years of membership. To this day, his children and grandchildren will remember his love for his country and his flag.

After many years of farming and raising a family, Donald sold the family farm to his son Roger and his wife Helen. In his last years he was blessed to be able to live in Gregory at Silver Threads with the love of his life and many of his family close by.

There could be no greater role model of love than the relationship between Donald and Imogene. They celebrated their 74th anniversary on December 27, 2015. His greatest wish in life was to be able to spend every day with her. He told anyone who asked that she was the greatest woman alive and he was blessed to have been able to spend his life with her. One of his last requests was to have her by his side to say goodbye. As he told her this might be goodbye and he loved her very much, she responded with "I love you more."

Donald was welcomed into the arms of his Savior and his two beloved sons on Easter morning March 27, 2016. His last hours were spent surrounded by his family and with a final salute for his service to his country. He was 97 years old.

Donald was preceded in death by his parents, Oscar and Frances Turnquist; his siblings, Frances, Dorothy, Eleanor, Carol and Elroy; and his sons Larry and Roger.

He is survived by his wife Imogene Turnquist of Wewela, SD. Thankful for having been blessed and guided by his life are his daughter and son-in-law, Donna and Donald Steppat of Gregory, SD; son, Ronald Turnquist of Colome, SD; daughter-in-law, Helen Turnquist of Winner, SD, and daughter and son-in-law, Nancy and Larry Grim of Gregory, SD; sixteen grandchildren: Valerie (Jeff) Johnson, Tony (Cindy) Steppat, Todd (Denise Behnke) Steppat, Voni (Tim) Vink , Travis (Sue) Turnquist, Trent (Teresa) Turnquist, Abby (Gregg) Schramm, Tim Turnquist (James Benes), John Turnquist, Matt (Gloriann) Peddicord, Luke Peddicord, Heth (Rachael) Turnquist, Natalie (Andy) Damgaard, Ryan (Tiffany) Turnquist, Rena Grim, Annie (Andrew) Hamilton; thirty (soon to be 31) great-grandchildren; and two (soon to be 3) great-great grandchildren.

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