County park officials mark 1966 tornado anniversary at Skyline Park

Thursday marked the anniversary of a massive tornado that left a trail of death and destruction in Topeka.
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 10:48 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Thursday marked the anniversary of a massive tornado that left a trail of death and destruction in Topeka.

Jack Marshal a 15-year-old boy scout when an F-5 tornado tore through Topeka on June 8, 1966.

“Cowering with my family in the basement North of Topeka. We did step outside when most of the tornado passed through Topeka and we saw it rise over the Kansas River, just a big ball of white cloud going into every direction,” says Topeka tornado survivor, Jack Marshal.

Marshal says the next day boy scouts were assigned to assist in search and rescue.

“I was on probably the second group to go out and we got canceled. A friend of mine was on the first group to go out and he had an unpleasant experience of finding a deceased person in the storehouse but Dr. Karl Menninger was very upset that they had us kids out here so he called us all back in,” says Marshal.

Marshal was among the people who joined Shawnee County Parks and Rec at Skyline Park Thursday, for a tornado talk event.

Their tornado talk looked back at the historic day, from Bill Kurtis’ famous warning “for god’s sake, take cover”, to the path over Burnett’s mound.

Topeka’s storm was the first F-5 tornado ever recorded. It killed 17 people and injured more than 500.

So it’s just really important to kinda see why we have a tornado siren system, why we do that, why we pay attention to the weather. It’s also important because the history of a community, it kinda shows how that community got there so it’s just really important to maybe not live that history every day but at least acknowledge it and to know about it,” says Recreation Director, Devin Cooper.

Now 73, Marshall says he hopes to never experience something like it again.

“You will never forget the stink of rotting garbage that hovered over the city most of the summer and just because of the 14 miles of destruction but it was interesting to see the city pull together, come together and as a 15-year-old kid I got to be a part of it,” says Marshal.