Obituary: Loye E. Blackburn

February 8, 1935 ~ February 26, 2024
Loye E. Blackburn
February 8, 1935 ~ February 26, 2024
Posted at 9:38 AM, Mar 25, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-26 15:50:53-04

Loye E. Blackburn was born 8 February 1935 in Great Falls Montana. Of the twelve children born to Ernest and Melva Blackburn, Loye was the ninth child, and the sixth son. He died at home, in Congress, Arizona, on 26 February 2024. He was predeceased by his parents and eight siblings: Garth, Donna Warnick, Bryce, Betty Jensen, Kent, Lynn, Joyce James, and Gerry. He is survived by a sister, Kaye Blackburn Stevens, brothers Duane (Doretha) and Merle (Janice),his five children: Steven (Cindy), Rodney, Reed (Leslie Mercord), Shelly Farber, and Kristina Otto (Roger), eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Loye’s 89 years were not mundane. In his youth, while dreaming of being a pilot, he participated in 4-H, was a jockey, an aspiring ventriloquist, and worked on the family farm in Manchester. He was hardworking, responsible, brave, winsome, adventurous, persistent, persuasive, and stubborn. He was passionate in his beliefs. His school records show multi-week absences for hunting trips. Fishing was a top priority. Women loved him and fish feared him. He loved horseback hunting trips, flying, hopping trains, mountain biking, snowmobiling, hiking, backpacking, and gardening. He had a special place in his heart for gold prospecting and enjoyed meeting new friends.

After graduating from Great Falls High School in 1953, he served in the Gulf States Mission for the LDS church from 1955-1957. Upon his return, he entered BYU in Provo UT, where he met his match in Leonnie Funk. They were married March 19, 1959 in Mesa, AZ. From this union sprang lots of fireworks, and five beautiful, well-adjusted children. He supported his new family, first as a concrete contractor, then an insurance man, while serving in the MT Air National Guard. Subsequently, he owned and operated Skymart Aviation in Great Falls, amassing over 14,500 hours as a pilot while selling aircraft throughout the Northwest. These flight hours were not without incident. He managed to survive enough airplane crashes to earn the moniker ‘Crash Burnblack’ among his pilot friends. Dad and Mom divorced in 1985.

First and foremost, dad was a salesman. When the economy made the airplane business untenable, he sold cars, then real estate. He sold whatever needed selling, and some things that didn’t. He could sell ice cubes to Eskimos.

In 1987, he married Freda King. Freda brought three youngsters to the relationship: Eric, Jennifer and Sheila. The new family moved to Whitefish, MT in 1988 where they spent the next 12 years. Eventually, cold winters and married life became tiresome. In 2000, they divorced, and dad headed south to a more hospitable climate.

That’s when he was bitten by the Gold Bug. In 2002, he established a small business selling gold prospecting equipment and metal detectors. For about a decade, he moved the operation between Stanton, AZ and Sumpter, OR. In 2011, he built a house and small storefront in Stanton, where he lived and operated the business until 2018, when he went to live with his son, Steve and his family. But, he missed the desert and his friends, and moved back to Stanton in 2019.

His place was remote, and difficult to keep up, so in 2021 he moved to Congress, AZ where he lived out his remaining years. He really should have been living with family, or in assisted living but he would not have that. He wished to remain in his own home. Due to the support of his many friends and neighbors, and the close proximity of first responders, he was able to do just that

To read the complete obituary and share condolences, click here to visit the Croxford Funeral Home website.