Edward Franklin Turco

Turco—Edward Franklin Turco, 76, on March 28, 2021, peacefully, with his wife of 40 years, Denise, by his side at their home in Lincoln, R.I. Ed was born on March 23, 1945, to Alfred and Delia (DiMeo) Turco in Providence, R.I. Ed spent his youth in Warwick and Cranston, R.I., and later resided in Lincoln for many years.

Ed’s lifelong interest in astronomy and constructing telescopes began when at 13 he received a telescope as a gift. Avidly pursuing his interests during high school, Ed represented Rhode Island in the National Science Fair. He was a lifelong member of Skyscrapers Astronomical Society in Scituate, R.I., joining in 1961 when he was just 16 years old. Over the years, Ed gave many talks for the organization, wrote articles for the society’s publications, and shared his knowledge of telescope-making both informally and in workshops.

Ed launched the Rhode Island Meteor Research Organization with two high school friends. He was a regular contributor to the magaziness Sky & Telescope and Amateur Astronomy. More than 50 years later, his final piece “The Definitive Newtonian Reflector” was published on Cloudynights.com.

Ed graduated from Brown University with a bachelor’s in anthropology in 1967, and a master’s in English in 1971. He worked at Brown University Mail Services following graduation and before moving to the U.S. Postal Service. Ed was promoted to the engineering technical unit working with computer software applications. He enjoyed teaching and mentoring as an adjunct professor of English at Community College of Rhode Island and a substitute teacher in secondary schools. 

When Ed met his future wife, Denise Prive, he wanted her to appreciate his passion for crafting fine telescopes. He extended a challenge to her, asking her to build a telescope. Fortunately, Denise passed the test, and they were married on February 14, 1981. Together they raised their son, David. Denise was constant in her support of Ed’s unique talents and keen intellect. They were never at a loss for conversation together.

Ed constructed instruments that were works of art, each requiring daunting microsurgical labor—grinding and polishing mirrors, constructing tripods and (along with much else) crafting tubes from fine woods and brightly painted composite materials. He was an inventor as well, for example, creating for Denise’s birthday a projector-kaleidoscope made of brass. Ed was an inveterate collector of all sorts of things such as coins, stamps, stones, shells, even old radios. An autodidact, he became interested in chaos theory and, combining his love of music and mathematics, wrote a computer program that generated compositions of chaos-created music. 

Ed was a lover of both classical and contemporary music. His love of history brought him to Saylesville Meeting in Providence for Christmas Eve candlelight worship in 2000. He was drawn to the early-eighteenth-century meetinghouse. Ed began reading deeply about the Religious Society of Friends and a year later became a Quaker. He was a faithful attender who dedicated himself to service to the meeting for as long as he was able. 

The physical challenges of advanced rheumatoid arthritis limited Ed’s mobility in recent years, which led him to reach out in new ways to communicate his passions with others. When he became housebound, he continued mentoring and teaching via the Internet.

Ed is survived by his wife, Denise Prive; one child, David Bernard Greene Turco (Lisa); one grandchild; a brother, Alfred Turco, and his companion, Maureen O’Dougherty; one niece and one nephew.

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