ALVA “TURK” DUUS THERKILDSEN was born August 8, 1923 in Tyler, Minnesota to Svend and Kathrine (Duus) Therkildsen. How does one put 98 years of a FULL AND BLESSED life into a very condensed story but here it goes: He was baptized and confirmed at Danebod Lutheran Church, Tyler. From an early age, developing a good work ethic was instilled into Turk and at the age of 15 he started to work for a farmer and got paid $10 a month plus room and board. After about a year-and-a-half he took a bus to Minneapolis and started to work as a ticket taker at what was described as a ten-cent theater and later started to repair theater seats which started his path as becoming Mr. Handyman and Craftsman. On a visit back home, he met up with a friend and found out he was working at Kaiser ship-building yards in the San Francisco-Oakland area. Two weeks later Turk was heading west, too.
When he was 19, he got his draft call but because he was working for a defense contractor it was deferred but soon the service came calling again. Turk served in the Navy in the South Pacific during WWII from February 1943 – January 1946 aboard the USS PRICHETT DD-561, his rank was Seaman 1st Class. His ship was engaged in eight major battles which included Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Philippines. Turk was proud to serve his country and was humbled about his time in the Navy. He was very reserved to talk about his time in the service until just the last several years.
On December 6, 1946, Turk and Margaret Olesen were united in marriage in Minneapolis, MN. They made their home in Tyler, MN. They were blessed with 5 children. Turk started working for Chris Larsen as a carpenter and later went to work for the Lincoln County Road Dept for a bit. He started work at Tyler Hardware where he worked for 8 years in the plumbing and heating dept. In 1960 when Iver Petersen, owner of Petersen Plumbing and Heating retired they purchased the business and it became known as “Turk’s Plumbing and Heating”. Margaret was the bookkeeper and together they made quite a team. In the early 80’s they “semi” retired because as anyone who knew, Turk; knew his hands couldn’t sit idle very long and that’s when Turk’s Workshop was created. Turk was a Master Craftsman and made MANY woodworking projects throughout the years for family and friends. Even at 98 years old he was still building and tinkering away in his woodshop. He loved watching all the birds enjoying his many different bird feeders he made, making WWII model airplanes, putting puzzles together and doing word puzzles, as well.
His daughters expressed the four best characteristics he instilled in them growing up were: to have a good work ethic; kindness; hard work; to always be humble. Since his death, it has been stated that Turk was like a Tyler Institution. He may have been a man of few words but he had the biggest heart and was always willing to help out with whatever and wherever help was needed. Most people did not know his real name, Alva because at an early age he was mostly known around Tyler and the surrounding communities as his one-word name “Turk”.
Turk was reunited with Margaret at Heaven’s gate on February 8, 2022. He is survived by his four daughters, Linda (Neal) Ballard of Tyler, Paula (Owen) Hansen of West Fargo, ND, Mona (Mory) Christianson of Tyler, and Twyla (Kevin) Hansen of Montevideo, MN; twelve grandchildren; and thirty-one great-grandchildren. Turk was preceded in death by his wife, Margaret in 2003; his son, Wade Therkildsen in 2021; his grandson, Kelly Christopher Hansen; parents, Svend and Kathrine; and sister, Amy Svendsen.
“Blessed be his Memory”