Longtime Oak Creek resident Joe Turon passed away Feb. 24, 2009, at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction, after a brief illness. He was 87.
Joe was born Sept. 26, 1921, in Monarch, Wyo., the fourth of seven children to John and Elenora (Sobotka) Turon. The family moved to Oak Creek in 1931 where Joe's father worked in the coal mines.
Joe joined the Civilian Conservation Corp. and worked around Maybell and Massadona until he joined the U.S. Air Force in 1941 and completed training at Lowry Field in aerial gunnery. Joe was a tail gunner on the B-17 aircraft "Rebecca" in the 8th Air Force Division and flew over Newfoundland to England where the division was stationed. Joe made six missions before the Rebecca was shot down over Frankfurt, Germany, in 1943. He was wounded and spent four months in a German hospital. From there, he was taken to various prison camps, where he spent 18 months before finally being liberated by the Russians in 1945. Joe returned home to his family and to work in the coal mines.
Joe married Lottie May Bing (fondly known as "Brat") on July 15, 1951, at the Lutheran church in Steamboat Springs. To this union, four children were born, which were the light of his life. As his children grew, it was important to Joe that his children enjoy life and have time for "play" but also instilling in them a strong work ethic and respect for others.
Joe continued to work in the coal mines until they shut down and eventually went to work for the Routt County Road and Bridge Department, retiring as foreman of District 1 in 1985.
After retirement, Joe and Lottie enjoyed the outdoors. Joe's passion was fishing, and they spent many sunny days at the high country lakes on Dunckley Pass. They also loved taking rides during the summer and fall months, enjoying the beauty and wildlife of Routt County. Joe and Lottie enjoyed traveling, which included an Alaskan cruise, the 50th reunion of the 8th Air Force Division in London, a trip to Hawaii and numerous small vacations.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents, John and Elenora; stepfathers, Frank Yelesnianski and John Kern; brothers, George and Paul; sister, Rose; and son, David.
Joe is survived by his wife of 57 years; children, Joe and his wife, Penny; Cheryl and her husband, Dan; and George and his wife, Natalie; grandchildren Lisa and Frank; great-grandson Jesse; brother, John, and his wife, Anna; sisters Regina and her husband, John, and Mary and her husband, Johnny; sister-in-law Louise White; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A Lutheran service was held Feb. 27 at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Oak Creek, officiated by Rev. Dave McKnight. Soloist Gretchen Hayes, accompanied by Gene Sanders, sang "How Great Thou Art" and "In the Garden." A special music selection, "The Old Man," was played. Military honors by the U.S. Air Force Color Guard and American Legion Post 189 concluded the service. Memorial donations may be made to the American Heart Association, in care of Grant Mortuary.