In tribute: Former mayor joker, hunting hero

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

He was an Army veteran, a boxer, a butcher, a commissioner and a mayor. But Manford Turnbough was best remembered as a friend, father, husband and hunting hero.

Turnbough, a former Texico mayor, died Oct. 12 in Lubbock.

Born July 5, 1931 in Portales, Turnbough lived most of his life in the eastern New Mexico area. He was educated in the Portales school system and raised in the now-defunct Bethel Union Church.

That’s where he met his wife, Wanda. The two were young when they first met at church, and Wanda said there’s wasn’t an instant spark between the two.

“We didn’t start going together for a year or two after that,” Wanda said. “We seemed to share the same values.”

That led to their marriage, which took place shortly before he was sent into Germany for service during the Korean War.

When he returned from military service, he was a butcher at many meat markets, and eventually served as head steward for the Amalgamated Meat Cutters Union.

Later on, he decided to enter public service. He served for many years on the city council, and as mayor.

“He enjoyed it,” Wanda said. “Of course, you make people unhappy when you make rules they don’t like.”

Wanda recalled her husband as a friendly man, who would end a lot of conversations by telling the person to “bring a steak next time.” It never resulted in a steak, but it usually resulted in a laugh, she said.

Besides being an elected official, Turnbough was best known as a sportsman — he was a boxer while serving in Germany, and he loved to hunt. The most popular story about his hunting wasn’t about the size of the animal shot, but the timing.

In a story read at Turnbough’s funeral, his son David recalled a bear they had shot. David said he went down into the canyon where the bear had supposedly died.

The only problem was the bear was not dead, and was soon towering over David. Before he could think of what to do next, the bear was struck down by a bullet, shot by his father, 150 feet away.

“Dad had always been my hero,” David Turnbough said in his speech, “but on this day he galvanized that belief.”

In Tribute is a regular feature. To suggest an honoree, contact CNJ Managing Editor Rick White at 763-6991 or by e-mail:
rwhite@cnjonline.com