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Behind The Reader’s Voice: Frederick G. Turk

Published: Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Fred Turk, a frequent Sauk Valley Media letter writer, lives in Rock Falls. His favorite topics include various situations in foreign countries and especially how the U.S. affects them, as well as peace and political issues.

Note to readers: This is the first in a series of question-and-answer features about people who frequently write letters to the editor.

Name: Frederick G. Turk

City: Rock Falls

Age: 76

How long have you been a letter writer?

30 years for the Gazette.

Favorite topics:

Situations in foreign countries and especially how the U.S. affects them; peace and political issues.

Most memorable reaction to one of your letters:

I always appreciate both positive and negative ones.

Which other letter writers do you enjoy reading?

John Eades and Alan Beggerow always write well-crafted and meaningful ones.

Tell us a little about your family, education, career, hobbies:

I am blessed with my wonderful wife, Kay, and children Daniel, Greg, David, and Naomi and their 10 talented children.

I earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Cleveland State University, known as Fenn College in 1960, a master’s degree in education at Case-Western Reserve University, also in Cleveland, and a doctorate in international and comparative education at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.  

I started out as a junior high math teacher in Cleveland, Ohio. I felt the need to leave the nest and joined the Catholic Peace Core and taught in Arequipa and Lima, Peru, and joyfully met and married Kay Laswell, also a volunteer. We were married in Byron. I taught at D.C. Teachers College (now the University of the District of Columbia). We moved to Quito, Ecuador, where I worked with the OAS (2 years), Santiago de Chile with UNESCO (1.5 years), and at Universidade Federal Fluminense in Nitoroi, Brazil (3 years).

Since moving to Rock Falls in 1980, I was principal at St. Andrew’s School, a social worker with Catholic Social Service, part-time teacher at Sauk Valley Community College, teacher with the YWCA for abusive, violent men, and teacher at Winning Wheels.

I have been active in the peace movement, the Whiteside County Democratic Party, Open Forum and Occupy groups, and have joined peace delegations to Guatemala, Cuba, and Nicaragua.

I especially enjoy playing basketball, tennis and soccer, watching well-crafted, provocative movies, drama, art and reading fine literature, talking with people, and listening to good music.

How would you describe yourself?

I feel I am an adventurous, gregarious and meditative peacemaker. 

People you admire:

Howard Zinn, W.E.B Dubois, Mother Jones, Gandhi, Pete Seeger, Caesar Chavez, Dorothy Day, and many lesser known folks who live very heroic lives.

Favorite saying:

It’s not about me.

Best advice ever given you:

Follow your dream.

Advice for local, state and/or national government, in a nutshell:

Involve everyone in the decision-making process. Leaders influence more through their examples than their words. Work for the common good. Practice democracy.

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