Richard Turnbull died a few days ago.
He was the oldest dealer on the World Series of Poker staff. Richard may have been 86 in calendar years, but he was 21 in spirit. Richard loved poker and his favorite time of year was traveling to Las Vegas every summer to be with so many of the people he called his friends.
It’s a mystery as to why it happened. Senseless really.
A few nights ago, Richard stepped off a curb and tried to cross the street. He didn’t see an oncoming car and was struck. He died a short time later.
I didn’t know Richard well. That was my loss. I read about Richard’s life in today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal. I learned more about him from various poker websites which reported on the tragedy. He seemed like a very nice man.
This morning, poker icon Mike Caro contacted me by e-mail. To my surprise, Mike knew Richard. They were close friends. In fact, Richard stayed at Mike’s cabin next to the lake in the Ozarks at what’s known as “Hermitage,” where Caro now lives.
Mike wrote some extraordinary things to me. Things I didn’t know. Things that surprised me.
For instance, Richard goes so far back in poker that he knew Doyle Brunson before he was ever famous. Richard actually witnessed the accident that ended young basketball star Doyle Bunson’s athletic career, causing him to decline an offer to play for the NBA’s (then) Minneapolis Lakers.
I also learned Richard was a true intellectual. In his earlier years, he toured the nation and conducted training for the “Great Books” discussion program. Mike Caro wrote to me, “(Richard) had tremendous influence on my early thought process.”
I would have liked to know Richard better, especially after learning these things about him. I would have liked to hear about the people he met and the things he saw — both at the poker table and away from it. I would have liked to hear which was Richard’s favorite book, and why.
But that might have been just scratching the surface. How much else about Richard was there that we don’t know?
Sadly, it’s too late now. With his passing, most of his fascinating stories and experiences go to the grave. Lost forever. All that would have been necessary to give them life would have been to talk to him. To ask questions. I think Richard would have loved to answer.
It too late to know many of the things Richard knew. But it’s not too late to learn about someone else who is interesting. How many other “Richards” are out there among us? How many “Richards” would love to be asked about their favorite memory? How many things are there that we don’t know?
In memory of Richard, let us pledge to erase our ignorance about each other, and to learn. To learn a lot more. For it is we who shall forever be the winners for simply asking the right questions.
Read Mike Caro’s wonderful blog entry on Richard Turnbull HERE.