Virgil Turnbull – obituary

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Marshall, Tx. paper, March 4, 1985
Virgil Turnbull, 83, pioneer in commercial aviation who retired as a Braniff pilot in 1961, died Monday, March 4, 1985, in Marshall.
A close friend of Wiley Post, Turnbull had learned to fly in 1923 when be bought a war surplus plane in Ardmore, Okla. He was the last person to be hired as a pilot before the airline industry adopted a policy in 1936 whereby flight officers moved up through the ranks before becoming pilots.
Before joining Braniff, Mr. Turnbull was a pilot for Texas Air Transport, Southern Air Transport and other early commercial airlines. When he retired from Braniff, he had logged 6 million miles and 30,000 flying hours. He was the first Dallas-based pilot forced to retire when a Civil Aeronautics Board Rule, that pilots must retire at age 60 was adopted in 1960.
Turnbull and his wife, the former Bobbie Burton, are natives of Oklahoma, where he was born in 1901. She was the first employee of Braniff Airlines, where she was head of the Braniff Hostess department when the couple met and were married in 1938.
Turnbull and Post dated their friendship to the 1920s, when they were involved in stunts characteristic of the barnstorming, seat-of-the-pants pilots of those days.
Post lived in Maysville and Turnbull in nearby Pauls Valley, Okla., in 1924 when the Maysville Chamber of Commerce hired Post to perform a parachute stunt for a local festival. Post hired Turnbull to fly a plane while Post jumped, but Post’s family got wind of the plan and hid Post’s parachute. After retirement, the Turnbulls uses a travel trailer to roam the country for a number of years. Mr. Turnbull’s funeral will be 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at Sullivan Funeral Home.
Funeral services for Virgil Lester Turnbull, 83, of 211 Pitts Ave., Marshall, will be held at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in colonial Chapel of Sullivan Funeral Home with the Rev. Ted Heers officiating. Burial will be in Colonial Gardens
Mr. Turnbull died at 12:05 a.m. Monday, March 4, 1985, in Memorial Hospital after an extended illness.
The son of Ryan and Lottie Turnbull, he was born March 21, 1901, in Chickasaw Nation Indian Territory, Okla. He attended Pauls Valley, Okla. public schools and Kemper Military Institute.
He married Violet Burton on Nov. 2, 1938, in Fort Worth.
He was a professional pilot for Braniff Airline in Dallas from 1927 to his retirement in 1962.
Mr. Turnbull was a 32nd Degree Mason and a member of OX5, Organization of Early Aviation.
He was preceded in death by his wife on Sept. 26, 1984.
Survivors include one brother, Roy Turnbull of Supulpa, Okla.; three sister-in-laws, Mrs. M.W. (Valda) Ludington of Marshall, Mrs. Bradford (Evelyn) Sinex of Houston and Mrs. J.W. (Oleta) Huffman of Oklahoma City; two nieces, Betty Turnbull Billingley of Tulsa, Okla., and Mary Jane Turnbull Cuen of Norman, Okla., and one nephew, John Turnbull of Spartensburg, S.C. Pallbearers will be staff of the Sullivan Family.

You might be interested in …