William “Don” Blackburn, age 92, of Lynchburg, VA passed away at his home on Friday, November 3, 2023, surrounded by family.
Don Blackburn was born May 23, 1931, in Marlow, Oklahoma. He was raised there by his parents Dwight M. Blackburn and May C. (Haynes) Blackburn along with his four siblings Jerry, Jim, Linda, and Dan. After graduating high school in 1949, Don enlisted in the US Army where he would go on to serve his country in the Korean War until being honorably discharged as a Master Sargent in 1953. He was awarded the Bronze Star for Bravery and two Purple Heart Medals for injury in battle. Don was also a survivor of the Chosin Reservoir battle, known as the Chosin Few. Don attended Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Oklahoma State), becoming a member of the Delta Chi fraternity and graduating in 1957 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. Don then began a career with the U.S. Forest Service which took him to the mountains of Appalachia where he would meet his lifelong love, Wilma Sylvester. Don and Wilma met in October of 1960 and were married two months later on December 17th, 1960. The Blackburns established homes in Tellico Plains, TN, Alexandria, LA, Montgomery, AL, and Roanoke, VA, prior to moving to Lynchburg, VA, in March of 2022.
Don enjoyed working with the U.S. Forest Service for 35 years before “retiring” in 1992. He found many ways to remain active and busy during retirement including his heavy involvement with the Roanoke Rescue Mission, FEMA & VEMA Disaster Relief Coordination teams. Overall, Don’s life was devoted to serving his family, church, country, community, and others. He spread God's love through his active membership with Grandin Court Baptist Church in Roanoke, VA, for over 45 years. Don enjoyed serving as an ordained deacon and as a leader in the youth group and naturally fit in with students due to his timeless whimsical and mischievous spirit. He also took part in multiple overseas mission trips with his local church. Don enjoyed supporting the Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Yankees as well as attending his grandchildren's sporting events. Along with his wife, he was preceded in death by his parents, brothers, Jerry D. Blackburn and Jimmy D. Blackburn, and parents-in-law, Ernest B. and Edith Sylvester and brother-in-law Jerry Sylvester.
Don is survived by two daughters and their spouses, Linda B. and Hugh F. Dalton of Powhatan, VA; Diana B. and Edward F. Parker of Forest, VA; four grandchildren, Hugh "Trey" F. Dalton III, Keli M. Dalton both in Richmond VA, Breana P. Rojas and husband, Joshua of Lynchburg, VA, and Eric S. Parker and wife, Allison of Westland, MI; and three great-grandchildren, Charlotte A. Rojas, Brynlee N. Rojas, and Analiese C. Rojas of Lynchburg, VA.
The family would like to share a word of special thanks to Ms. Cresteen Pennix, caregiver with Acti-Kare, the team of Gentle Shepherd Hospice and members of both the Calvary Baptist Church and Stonegate Villas communities for welcoming the Blackburns in their final years. Those wishing to honor Don’s life can donate in his name to the Roanoke Rescue Mission or Gentle Shepherd Hospice.
A visitation will be held at Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, on November 30, 2023, from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. A Celebration of Don’s life will be held at Grandin Court Baptist Church in Roanoke, VA on Friday, December 1, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. A private graveside service will follow.
Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg is assisting the family.