Joseph Edmund Turner — “First Rate”

Bill’s “Uncle Ed” was an important part of his life. Following is a biography written by Dr. Homer Brugge, Ed’s good friend and doctor, with minor assistance from Bill.

Joseph Edmund Turner was born in Jamestown, New York, May 27, 1881. His father was a wool sorter and played in the town marching band.

Ed developed a life-long interest in mechanical power devices after obtaining a jobĀ  with the Art Metal Company. He advanced to blueprint operator and showed obvious talent at engineering drafting. This craft became his lifetime work. Advanced to traveling estimator, he was required to make short railroad trips to areas in Pennsylvania and New York, enabling him to ride and view steam locomotives which became his lifelong avocation.

In his small workshop, he constructed a steam engine to run his metal lathe, as these were the days before electric power.

The year 1913 found him traveling to the West Coast to visit friends in Oakland, where his old friend, George Brugge, had recently married. Apparently, this occurrence stimulated him, for he soon moved and married Lillian Trampleasure in Jamestown, New York, September 1913.

Between trips to the round houses and making his wife a steam locomotive Widow. He advanced with the Art Metal company to be the engineer in St. Louis, Missouri, where the Turners resided for two years.

Their first child was tragically stillborn.

The lure of California and friends there soon prevailed and the Turners moved for a brief time to Corning, where they entered the olive raising field at the urging of Lillian Trampleasure’s parents. But olives, while very nourishing, were not very remunerative — so the old love of engineering called again and Ed and Lillian returned to Oakland where he was employed by various metal fabricating and erecting firms.

Their second child, Ruth Elizabeth, arrived in 1921.

During this period Edmund Turner assiduously pursued his avocation of the study of steam locomotives. The modern practice of their use, construction, their history and oddities and their improvements fascinated him.

[missing page, I hope to find a copy of it soon]

…for more pressing work, but eventually it reached a stage of operation from an external boiler and ran as smoothly as a watch.

Ed was the epitome of patience, perseverance, and adaptability. He accepted changes and alterations in his life apparently easily, not becoming disturbed or complaining.

He was in active employment with Yuba Dredge Company until age seventy-five, but when he left his friends there felt the need to continue gainful employment, and through friends he quickly found a similar position with a smaller dredge repair firm based at Folsom. Here he continued to work, driving home on the weekends to Millbrae, where he and his daughter, Elizabeth, also working, kept house together. Lillian died in 1957.

He worked full time, until at age 80 he suffered an auto accident. His recovery from a fractured knee, pelvis, and hand was protracted. What would have been an overwhelming bow to others in the premature death of his only daughter at this time was taken in stride by Ed.

Friends then arranged for him to reside at the King’s Daughter’s Home and subsequently Salem Lutheran Home. His failing eyesight was largely restored following cataract surgery by the son of his old boyhood friend. For almost ten years at these two homes Ed enjoyed simple living, pursuing his reading on locomotives and occasionally visiting the railroads.

In May of 1976 he observed his ninety-fifth year with friends and family at his nephew’s home in Napa, the second year of celebrating this occasion in a setting which gave him special pleasure. On July 4 he observed that Monday with dinner at his nephew Bill’s house in Berkeley, thus fulfilling a desire he expressed a few years before to live through his nation’s Bicentennial.

Many of us may regret this passing of the age of steam, just as many of us will miss this quiet energy, decency, and good humor of Ed Turner. But we all know that our lives will be forever enriched not only by the achievements of the age of steam, but also the “first rate” life of Joseph Edmond Turner.

Resume of Ed Turner’s life, as written by Dr. E. Homer Brugge, Ed’s good friend and doctor, with minor assistance from Bill Trampleasure, one of Ed’s nephews, and as read by Bill at Ed’s memorial service held Sunday August 1, 1976 in the Chapel of the Salem Lutheran Home in Oakland, California.

Ed died July 15, 1976, suddenly and simply. His cremated remains were taken to the Trampleasure/Turner family plot in Corning, California by Bill and his wife, Mary Lee, on Friday, July 23, where the urn was buried near his wife, Lillian’s remains. Bill and Mary Lee were privileged to add a loving, prayerful presence to the burial in a lovely country graveyard.


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