Cover photo for Michael Turnbull's Obituary
Michael Turnbull Profile Photo
1967 Michael 2021

Michael Turnbull

November 7, 1967 — June 26, 2021


Michael William Turnbull, age 53 of Las Vegas, NV passed away on June 26, 2021, after an eight and a half year battle with cancer. He was born in New York on November 7, 1967. Michael married Karen Elizabeth Sommer on September 28, 2002 in Seven Springs, PA. They moved to Las Vegas shortly after being married.

Michael was a talented musician and trombone player. He performed world wide, as well as on the strip of Las Vegas, with such artists as Tom Jones, Donny and Marie, Vegas the Show, Bernadette Peters, Gloria Estefan and others. Michael also had the joy of sitting in with Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns, The Bone Heads, and many more. He especially loved playing latin music and was often complimented on his embodiment of that style. He and Karen met in 1998 while performing together on the Royal Viking Sun with Cunard cruise line, Michael on trombone and Karen as a dancer.

He was diagnosed with Hurthle cell carcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of thyroid cancer, in 2013. After a miraculous 10 hour surgery that included reconstructing his trachea, he returned to the stage with Donny and Marie just 5 weeks later. In 2014 the cancer had metastasized to his brain and he was transported to UCLA. Another 10 hour surgery saved his life but left him with facial droop and right side partial paralysis ending his trombone career. After months of rehab he found music again by playing percussion for New Song Anthem Church.

Michael used his cancer diagnosis to inspire others. Never playing the victim and overcoming any challenge placed in front of him, he went on to complete 5 triathlons after his brain surgery. He was a sponsored hero for the Challenged Athletes Foundation and took pride in racing alongside all the inspirational athletes involved. His passion for endurance events was always linked to a cause and he was a part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, raising thousands of dollars and awareness. His completion of triathlons and other endurance events while battling cancer was a sign of his vigor and courage.

Michael and his wife Karen recently published their book “Dancing in The Rain: One Family’s Story of Faith, Strength, Courage & Love '' which chronicles his 8 year battle with cancer. Despite all odds Michael kept living life to its fullest and kept joy alive for him and his family. He has inspired family, friends and all those around him during his most difficult times.

Above all else, Michael’s greatest pride and joy was being a father to his two sons Evan (14) and William (9). His days were filled with love and laughter by simply being their dad. His adventurous spirit and love of life will be forever alive in his boys. Michael is survived by his wife Karen Turnbull; two sons Evan Turnbull and William Turnbull; his mother Kathy Turnbull and his sister Wendy Turnbull. He is preceded in death by his father William Turnbull.

Services are pending.  Family and friends can leave condolences and memories at

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