JAMES EARL BLACKBURN, Chief Petty Officer
“An American Soldier”
Jim was born in Halfmoon Township, Center County, Pennsylvania on December 5, 1928 to Emily Charlotte Blackburn and Robert Oliver Blackburn. He departed this earth on February 15, 2013 at the age of 84. At the age of 15, Jim altered his birth certificate to read “1926” as his date of birth and enlisted in the Navy in 1944 during the World War II. Later James and Gloria Mae McGarvey were married January 22, 1950 in Curwensville, PA. They declared their love for Christ and each other when on April 14, 1961 they received the Holy Sacrament of Confirmation in the Catholic Church of St. Anthony in Oxnard, CA. They enjoyed 43 years together traveling the United States throughout his 26+ years of active military career and raising their large family. They had a full life raising 8 children. James retired from the Navy Sea Bees in April 1970. Chief Blackburn’s career was defined as a builder and was also trained an explosives expert in the Navy. Dad is a World War II veteran, receiving the American Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupational Service Medal with “Europe” Clasp and National Defense; Service Medal; and a Korean War veteran and finally a Vietnam veteran serving multiple tours and was a Purple Heart recipient for wounds received in action on September 28, 1967, the Bronze Star and multiple Good Conduct Medals. One time, Jim got to share a fox hole with John Wayne who was visiting troops in Vietnam. Chief Blackburn was also part of the military group that prepared our first astronauts in space. His task was to train our NASA men in survival training. James had a wide ranging career in his military life.
After his retirement from the military he moved his family (now 6 children) to Pennsylvania for a few years then to Chandler, Arizona where he started a plumbing business. Their next move was to Greenville, Pennsylvania on a small farm, where he and Gloria raised their remaining 4 girls. Jim retired permanently in the summer of 1993 after 30 years of total military service and operating his own company and civilian employment.
In 1998 dad moved to Guthrie to live with his daughter Diane and Jan Goodyear for over the next 14+ years. He would love to watch all the old westerns and some of the older shows like “MASH” and visit. He loved questioning different facts and we would get on our computer and research the correct answers. Diane said her dad would do that when she was young as well, except then they used encyclopedias. Because Chief Blackburn was a Seabee/builder in the Navy, Diane said she learned all her mechanical skills from her dad. He would often include Diane in various repairs and jobs. Jim was always learning and loved to visit with anyone he would meet. Jim loved animals and enjoyed having his grandchildren around and especially Emilie, one of his daughter’s. They both love to kid and they would go back and forth with each other. This was such a great joy for both of them. There was an incident that required taking Jim to the ER in Guthrie for some X-rays. The doctor came to us and showed the X-rays of his ribs. His ribs looked like a plate of spaghetti. When Jim was asked about these injuries, he simply stated that was from shrapnel wounds and military actions. The doctor asked him what medical care he received; Jim simply stated he was wrapped in ace band-aids and went back to duty. Jim never complained about anything and exhibited an unbelievable strong will.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Gloria Mae Blackburn in May 1993; his son Timothy Lambert Blackburn in March 2011; his brother Samuel E. Blackburn in June 2007; his sister Ruth Bloom in May 2012 and his parents, Robert Blackburn & Emily Blackburn and stepmother Helen Hoover-Blackburn.
He is survived by his son, James M. Blackburn, Greenville, PA; and 6 daughters, Diane Goodyear, Guthrie, OK; Linda Seely, Troutdale, OR; Emilie Blackburn, Edmond, OK; Yolanda Blackburn, Edmond, OK; Yovonne Coburn, Guthrie, OK; and Yozelle Blackburn, Harper’s Ferry, WV; 11 grand children: Duane Coon of Boise ID; Dennis Coon of Edmond, Tabitha Navarro, Sandy Creek, NY, John McGarvey, Oklahoma City OK; Leigha Blackburn, Billings MT; Nicole McGarvey, Billings MT; Ryan McGarvey, Edmond, OK; Jennifer Seely, Gresham, OR; Benjamin Seely, Portland, OR; Trazelle Tickner, Locust Grove AR; Henry Rupolus Jr., Harper’s Ferry, WV and 4 great grand children; Kendra Coon, Edmond OK; Jessica Coon, Boise ID; and twins, Aurora & Scarlett Tickner, Locust Grove, AR.
By his request there will be no viewing. Memorial services will be held at St. Mary’s Church with Father Wood officiating on Friday, February 22 at 10:00 a.m. Services are under the direction of Community Funeral Home.
Family asks lieu of flowers, Memorials may be made to Wounded Warrior Project (woundedwarriorproject.org); or to St. Mary’s Church; or the charity of your choice.
We pray God will join him with his wife, son, parents and siblings in heaven.