Solveig Astrid Turpin

  • Born: August 31, 1936
  • Died: July 17, 2020
  • Location: San Antonio, Texas

Porter Loring Mortuary North

2102 North Loop 1604 East
San Antonio, TX 78232
Tel. (210) 495-8221

Tribute & Message From The Family

Solveig Astrid Turpin (nee Skramstad), 83, born in Waseca, Minnesota on August 31, 1936, passed away in San Antonio, Texas on July 17, 2020. She is preceded in death by her parents, Olaf and Magnhild Skramstad; brother, Odin Skramstad, and sister, Ingrid Henry.

Solveig was married to William Francis Turpin [dec.] in 1955 and they were both active in MENSA. They shared a son, William Eugene Turpin [dec.], from his first marriage. Solveig will be lovingly remembered by her children: Jeffrey Peter Turpin (Lisa Middleton); Rachel Lesley Smith (Larry Smith), Jennifer Ellen Turpin (Robert Elias) and Anthony David Turpin (Amicia Turpin), her grandchildren: Madeleine Rachel Elias; Conner Anthony Turpin; Jack Anders Elias; Sidney Patricia Turpin; Bjorn Harper Turpin; Erik William Turpin; Sawyer Mathew Turpin; Matthew Curtis; and Emma Mae Turpin; her sister Marie Skramstad DeForest (Felix DeForest); her extended family of in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews; her partner in adventure, Dr. Herbert H. Eling, Jr.; her close friends, and her dog, Barbie.

Solveig and family lived in Minneapolis and Chicago before moving to San Antonio. She began her undergraduate studies at St. Olaf's College, but her formal intellectual pursuits were subsumed by her family until 1974, when she divorced and moved to Austin. She still had three of her children at home, and, on a graduate student salary, raised them while completing her B.A., followed by a PhD in Anthropology at the University of Texas.

Her interest in Native American petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) was sparked during her doctoral studies under Dr. James A. Neely at Seminole Canyon in the West Texas desert. Solveig also worked with the archeologist David S. Dibble, Director of the Texas Archeological Survey (TAS) at the University of Texas, where she served as Associate Director. Solveig employed dozens of student archeologists and opened and extended research at seminal archeological sites including Seminole Canyon, Bonfire Shelter, and Skyline Shelter, also conducting research at Lewis Canyon funded by the Rock Art Foundation. She went on to become Director of TAS, then Associate Director of Texas Archaeological Research Labs (TARL), and ultimately director of Borderlands Archaeological Research Unit under the Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas, until her retirement in 1994, bringing in millions of dollars in research grants to the university over the years. After retiring she founded Turpin and Sons, Inc., a cultural resource management firm, where her son Jeff currently serves as President.

She spent decades finding and recording rock art in the Texas and northern Mexico deserts with her partner Herbert Eling, her son Jeff, and many graduate students and avocational archeologists. Her research has been published in hundreds of articles and bilingual and color-plated books, including The Rock Art of Coahuila, and presented at international and regional conferences. Her many awards included recognition by the International Rock Art Congress in Oaxaca, Mexico (2016) and the Texas Historical Commission and University Lands (2017) for her seminal contributions to archaeology.

Solveig was a strict, energetic, and disciplined researcher, whose trips into deserts, canyons, hills and mountains in west Texas and Mexico with Dr. Eling (in his various ancient Land Rovers) can only be described as legendary. These trips also piqued her interest in an early twentieth century Mexican scandal, about which she wrote the biography, The Hillcoat Murders. Her legacy will live on in her foundational, ground-breaking research and in the hearts and minds of her colleagues.

Deeply engaged in the lives of her children and grandchildren, she supported their educations and their diverse interests. She traveled the world, exploring her Norwegian heritage and her interests in other cultures. She was a voracious reader, especially of mystery novels. She had a prodigious memory for events and places, plots and characters in books she read or films she had seen, decades earlier. Solveig was a gifted and humorous storyteller, making frequent observations about the absurdities of life and of people. She loved to garden, and especially loved her dogs. She was the matriarch and center of her family, a force of nature with a lasting impact on the lives of her family and friends. We will miss her greatly.

Given COVID concerns, there are no current plans for a memorial service.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Family Violence Prevention Services,

Condolence & Memory Journal

"Strict, energetic, and disciplined researcher" indeed, and a whole lot of fun to boot. Those days years ago on surveys in the Lower Pecos and Northern Mexico with Zintgraff were rigorous but great fun, too. Will never ever forget the nightime cloud burst that sent all of us scrambling into the back of a trailer--tight fit, lot of laughs, thunderous snoring. Unforgetable. Hard to believe this "force of nature" is gone. Maybe she and Jimmy are out there arguing still about the White Shaman. Nos vemos, Doña Solveig.

Posted by Robert Goldsbury - San Antonio, TX - Friend   July 29, 2020

I was profoundly saddened to hear of Solveig's passing. She was an extraordinary person, a friend a well as a boss. I was privileged to accompany her on some great adventures. My condolences to all who will miss her.

Posted by Dan Julien - Austin, TX - Friend   July 25, 2020

I am a cave biologist, formerly from Austin. I knew Solveig in the 1980s and 1990s, worked with her in Seminole Sink, saw her at work in Bonfire Shelter, visited her and Lee Bement at TARL to see the bone material and points from Seminole Sink. She published at least 61 pubs I think, most of which are on ResearchGate. A brainy and hard-working archaeologist, she made her mark on Texas and Mexico. Rest in peace, Solveig.

Posted by William R Elliott - Jefferson City, MO - friend   July 25, 2020

Dr. Solveig Turpin was one of the reasons I became an archaeologist, and an inspiration to all. I grew up hearing her name spoken with respect and gratitude for her many contributions to our field. She will be sorely missed. Allow me to take this opportunity to express my condolences to her family.

Posted by Logan Ralph - El Paso, TX - Acquaintance   July 24, 2020

Solveig was the person most helpful in preparing me for my first forays into the archaeology of the canyons, desertlands and mountains of trans-Pecos Texas, in 1994, when I first assumed the position as staff archaeologist for the Texas General Land Office, and I relied upon her regularly for sage advice until my retirement in 2011. IMO (after Hallie Stillwell), no one knew the history and pre-history of trans-Pecos more intimately, and was more generous in sharing her knowledge. RIP Solveig!

Posted by Bob Skiles - Austin, TX - Friend   July 23, 2020


Solveig was an amazing person. She will be missed by those who knew her and those who followed her contributions to Archaeology.

Posted by Melissa Voellinger - Austin, TX - Friend   July 23, 2020

It is difficult to believe that this incredibly unique, strong, interesting, fun, compassionate, passionate, multilayered, curious, straightforward, brilliant, loving woman is gone. She had a big presence and now there is a big absence. My heart aches for the family for whom Solveig was the strong center; her love for all of you was so deep

Posted by Lois Lorentzen - Sausalito, CA - Friend   July 22, 2020


Posted by Edward Payne - San Antonio, TX - Family Friend   July 21, 2020

I'm having a hard time realizing that Solveig's gone. Memories keep flooding back to me, and they are ALL good, which makes the loss even more profound. Your mom was my boss, my dear friend, my opera companion, my counselor, my mentor, and my champion. I have wasted a lot of time in my life, but never when I was with her. Each visit was uplifting, compelling, and memorable. It's likely that the last time we visited was when she made a presentation to my cultural resource management class, which meant a lot to me and to my students. They were learning from a legend, and she was in her element that night.

Please know that my heart aches for the pain your family is experiencing at this time. You all mean so much to me, and I share your grief at this time. I am forever in your debt for welcoming me into your lives and allowing me to share your mom. She was an extraordinary person with a gloriously stratified life of interests and pursuits, and I see that reflected clearly in each of you. Like Solveig, you have all journeyed far in pursuit of individual truths, pausing with purpose to discern and appreciate the rhythms of our shared existence. Yours is a marvelously unique family, and I celebrate that even as I mourn her passing.

Take care, my friends. I look forward to sharing stories in person when the world is well. Solveig is now a part of the past she spent her lifetime documenting for the future. We still have work to do in her memory.

Posted by Dan K. Utley - Pflugerville, TX - Friend   July 21, 2020

I met this great lady at the Pecos River in Texas. Spent a vacation in Mexico with her. I have always admired her. A loss for Texas and the rockart she so loved. May the Shamans watch over her.

Posted by Michael Blount - Rio Rancho, NM - Friend   July 21, 2020

We are a sorry to hear of Solveig's passing. She was a wonderful neighbor and we have many fun memories of the time.

Posted by Betty Lanctot - San Antonio   July 21, 2020

Family Album