Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Stories: John G. and Dorothy L. Townsend

I like to highlight individuals and families who have had a lasting impact in our community, and the Townsend's definitely fit that definition. Townsend Manufacturing provided good jobs for many people in Sutherland, and KJLT Radio continues to influence the area through its Christian broadcasting.

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial: 1891 - 1991.

John Galen Townsend was born November 1, 1909, in Snyder Oklahoma to Galen L. (1887-1968) and Constance C. (Patton) (1886-1869) Townsend.

Dorothy L. was the daughter of James Lyle (1891-1967) and Ruth E. (Curtis) (1891-1938) Tyler, and born in Detroit, Michigan. James Tyler and several young men went to Detroit from Oklahoma to work in the manufacturing of automobiles, where they married and established families. After the loss of his wife Ruth, James and his children, Dorothy, James L. and Robert returned to Purcel, Oklahoma to be close to his parents.

John Townsend and Dorothy Tyler graduated from high school, and were married July 25, 1933. They are the parents of two children, Carole Galen, born in Oklahoma, August 28, 1934, and John Lyle, born in North Platte, Nebraska, May 18, 1948.

In 1934, employees of the Goodall Company of Ogallala were in Oklahoma and encouraged John to come to Nebraska to work. He oversaw the preparation of a building in Sutherland, which became the Star Theater. Because of the influx of many reservoir workers and their families, housing was very scarce. It seemed as though every available apartment, attic, garage, and basement had been converted into living quarters. When John came to Nebraska, he left his wife, Dorothy, and six week old daughter, Carole Galen, until he could secure a home for them. Dorothy and Carole Galen arrived two days before Christmas, December 23, 1934. They lived with Charles and Jennie McNeel and family until they could move to an apartment in the McNeel Hotel.

During World War II, Goodall Manufacturing Company of Ogallala produced capacitors for the government. As orders increased, John accepted an offer to establish a plant in Sutherland, which became the Townsend Manufacturing Company.

John’s electrical engineering knowledge led him to apply to the Federal Communications Commission for a radio license and frequency assignment, which was approved in 1952. KNBR Christian Radio began to broadcast until 1957 commercially, and then reorganized as a non-profit religious station with 5,000 watts of power on 970 KHZ, with listeners in parts of Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas. Having move to North Platte, the Townsends have enjoyed being affiliated with KJLT Christian Radio Station.

John and Dorothy have been active in their church, both are licensed radio amateurs, John for 65 years, and a member of the Quarter Century Wireless Association. He is a Past Patron of the Sutherland Chapter of OES, and Dorothy is a 50-year member and a Past Matron. She is also a member of the Sioux Lookout Chapter of DAR. John has served on the Housing Authority Board, Salvation Army Board, and is a 35 year member of the Kiwanis Club. Both are proud to have Revolutionary War soldiers as ancestors. They have fond memories of having lived and labored among friends in Sutherland for 24 years.

Carole Galen Townsend graduated from Sutherland High School. She married Robert A. Britt in 1954 and are the parents of three daughters: Robin, Janet and Jill.

John Lyle Townsend attended Sutherland grade school through fifth grade, moving to North Platte where he attended high school and the Junior College.  John and Carol Sue Sommer were married in North Platte, January 30, 1966. They are the parents of two sons, James David and Timothy John. John is now the manager and president of Tri-State Broadcasting Association, which added KJLT-FM in December 1990.
KJLT Radio in North Platte, Nebraska

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