Select Page

     Teacher:  “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” – Henry Adams, American historian

Anyone who knew Chuck Turbiville thought he deserved a “public servant” badge of honor on his chest.

His dedication to his community of Deadwood, state and country served as a marquee example of giving back.

I met Chuck in 2009 at the beginning of the state legislative session. He was  experienced; I was as green as grass but he answered all my questions and explained how the sausage was made, which is how legislation is often described.

His recent passing at 75 was universally mourned and his achievements were extensively reported. He deserved every word.

But today I’m writing about someone who contributed in a different way.

Dale Fluegel, who died last month at 87, was not a household name. Reporters didn’t contact him for a story, and the governor didn’t order flags be lowered to half staff in his honor.

Dale taught music. He was in a Mitchell retirement home when I was first introduced to him 20 years ago. He showed me his collection of books and miniature classic cars. He radiated friendliness. When a friend or new acquaintance encountered him in the dining room or hallway, he or she was the most important person in the world.

In later years, Dale’s scraggily beard and hair gave him a Hobbit appearance that perhaps put off those who didn’t know him. But after an introduction and a sentence or two of conversation, he completely disarmed his listener, who by then was wondering where Dale’s story was headed.

A Canistota native, Dale attended Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell before joining the Army in 1953, serving in Japan in the Army Band and as a chaplain’s assistant. He returned to Wesleyan, completing his Bachelor of Music degree and later a Master’s Degree of Music Education at the University of Montana. He also studied at the Juilliard School of Music in New York.

There is much more to tell about Dale’s life than can be shared here. However, his most telling contribution, I believe, was his life’s work.

In the words of one of his students:

“Mr. Fluegel was my music teacher for three years. So many good memories of his trying to impart his love of music and master composers to a gaggling group of ditzy adolescents.  He was such a supportive, caring teacher and he’d be glad to know his love of music did rub off!”

As legacies go, that’s as good as it gets.

Nov. 7, 2018