Michael J. Tidmarsh, better known as “Turkey,” a name that stuck with him for much of his life after he wore an elaborate turkey costume to a Halloween party, died peacefully July 31 at his apartment in Madison, Wisconsin. He was 70.
Michael was born December 9, 1943, to Winifred (Smith) Tidmarsh and Thomas Palmer Tidmarsh in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He grew up in Kimberly, attended Kimberly grade school, and graduated St. Mary’s High school in Menasha. He attended St Procopius College in Illinois and later joined the Air National Guard. Trained as a radar technician, he worked on fighter jets at Truax Air Force base in Madison WI. He also became a pilot.
After his reserve service ended, he owned a small waterbed business that he later sold so he could travel the world with his wife, Mary. He traveled much of South America, Ecuador, Central America, and Mexico. His daughter Kristen was born in 1974. In 1976, he settled with his wife and daughter on Martha’s Vineyard, where he became a boat builder at the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard.
He worked there for almost a decade, and that is where he discovered his love for sailing. He built many Vixens, but his true labor of love came in the form of an opportunity to restore a Rhodes 19 named “Carmen” that fueled a passion in him for sailing. He went on to compete in many races and regattas where he was fondly known as Captain Turk with his numerous sea shanties!
In later years he returned to his home state of Wisconsin, where he worked as an EMT and used his carpentry skills in other odd jobs until retirement.
He was an avid reader, a lover of animals, an enthusiastic gardener known as the “pickle king,” and a proud father and grandfather.
He is survived by his daughters, Theresa Ace Kruger of Madison WI, Kristen Tidmarsh Araujo, and his two grandsons, Trey and Devin Araujo of Edgartown.
He was preceded in death by his parents and beloved dog Cajun. Funeral services were private. A celebration of life will take place at the end of September at sea with friends and family to salute captain Turk on one final sail in Vineyard Sound.
For more information email: The Turkette at Shearinspiration@gmail.com
Oh don’t you hear our old man say, good-bye, and farewell this very day, I hear the sound, he’s homeward bound, into the sunlit horizon he’ll slip, this iron man and his wooden ship!