Flags across Turlock were flown at half mast early this week in honor of former mayor Dale Pinkney, who died Saturday at the age of 86.
Pinkney left behind a legacy of public service. He was appointed to the Turlock Planning Commission by former mayor Enoch Christoffersen and served from 1968 to 1970. He then ran and was elected to the Turlock City Council and served from 1970 to 1978. He was then elected Turlock’s 18th mayor and served from 1978 to 1982.
He was also a past president of the Turlock Chamber of Commerce and longtime member of the Turlock Lions Club.
When his daughter, Carla Pinkney, found out about the flags flying at half mast she said it brought “tears of joy and gratitude.”
“It is a fitting tribute to his years of community service,” she said.
Carla Pinkney said that her dad’s passion for public service began at Turlock High School when he was elected president for the class of 1950. Following his high school graduation, Dale Pinkney served in the U.S. Army Airborne as a paratrooper. When he returned home, he attended Modesto Junior College and the National Investment Banking School of the University of Colorado.
In 1955 Dale married Lois Fontaine and together they had three children and shared 59 years of marriage. Lois Pinkney died in December 2014.
While he built his career in finance — first working at Morris Plan Company and then serving as president of Town & Country Finance & Thrift — he was drawn into public service.
“One of my first memories of (my dad) was stapling campaign signs when he was running for City Council,” said Carla.
While going through her dad’s papers recently she found one of his original campaign signs which read: “D – Dependable; A – Able; L – Loyal; E- Enthusiastic — Pinkney for City Council.” Carla said she remembers her dad liking the straight-forward politics of the past.
During his tenure on the Turlock City Council, Turlock doubled in territory, population and city employees. Some of the more controversial issues he tackled included the widening of West Main Street and the installation of the Geer Road planter divider. He also unsuccessfully advocated for the development of an airport and the redevelopment of the downtown area — both of which came to fruition after his time in office.
During this time Pinkney was a supporter of Turlock sports programs and served as a football official for Turlock High. He was especially proud of his 100 plus hours of work that went into the building of the Atch Pedretti Park, dedicated to the former Turlock coach in 1977.
In a 1982 Journal article, the recently former mayor shared what he was most proud of during his time on the Turlock City Council. His list includes the building of the city’s then-new $16.5 million sewer plant, the opening of a third fire station to serve the northside, a state-of-the-art finance computer program implemented at City Hall “which is a model for small cities all over the country,” a crime rate in 1981 lower than the state or national average, $2.35 million worth of badly needed road repairs, development of a storm drainage system and development of 20 new recreation programs.
Brad Bates, who served on the City Council with Pinkney and followed as Turlock’s 19th mayor, remembers Pinkney as a very “no nonsense” politician.
“He was reluctant to be the focus of attention — just take care of business, no theatrics. The pebble in Dale's oxfords was Tom Howard, a constant source of irritation and aggravation. But always a ‘Turlock first’ Mayor,” said Bates.
While his official public service came to an end in 1982, Pinkney continued to support the community through his work with the Lions Club and as a football official. He was also a member of the Latif’s Restaurant early morning coffee group — a ritual for him until just about a year and half ago, according to his daughter.
Pinkney also kept up with local politics, offering current Mayor Gary Soiseth a word or two of advice.
“I was sad to learn that former Mayor Dale Pinkney died today, but his legacy lives on. He was a great man and a great leader of Turlock. Even as a candidate, he welcomed me into his home and gave me invaluable advice. He loved his family, his church and his city. I will miss seeing him at Latif’s, but I’m proud to have called him a friend,” said Soiseth.
A memorial service for Pinkney is scheduled for noon May 11 at the First United Methodist Church, 1660 Arbor Way, Turlock. Check future issues of the Journal or online at TurlockJournal.com for a full obituary in the coming week.