Rossville – John D Blackard, 85, passed away from lung cancer September 16 in Billings, MT at home and surrounded by family.
He was born October 24, 1935 in Clarksville, Arkansas, the son of George and Maggie (Middleton) Blackard. John attended many schools during his childhood due to his dad’s occupation. Although he graduated from Belton High School in Texas, Clarksville High School class of ’53 was always near and dear to his heart, he traveled back for many class reunions and kept in touch with classmates over the years. He received a Bachelors degree from Northeastern Oklahoma State and a Masters in Education from Kansas State University.
John suffered a crippling injury in a hay truck accident at fourteen years of age but a few years later when he received a draft notice from the U.S. Army, he proudly answered the call. His service was brief but honorable.
John began his employment with USD 321 in 1961 in Delia, KS where he was immediately welcomed with open arms and became part of the Delia family. He served as Math and Science teacher, principal, bus driver and basketball, track, and baseball coach over the years. He built special, strong, and long-lasting relationships during his tenure at Rossville, St. Mary’s, and Delia where he retired as principal in 1997. He treasured all those relationships and memories.
He married Wanda N Walker in 1968 in Delia, KS where they started a family and raised 4 children. To supplement his income as a teacher, he sold Kirby Vacuums, Salad Master Cookware, and painted houses. They enjoyed card games, dominoes, and parties with friends. John especially enjoyed fishing local farm ponds with family, friends and former students and cherished many fond memories of those trips.
In 1985 John married Virginia “Gini” Parr Gentry in Rossville, KS. They loved to travel, taking the scenic route around the states playing golf and taking beautiful pictures of their surroundings. They loved one another dearly until he lost her to cancer in 1991.
John was a member of the St. Mary’s Golf Course for many years and later joined Wamego Country Club. His love for golf took him to many places and different courses but usually not without someone in his “noon group”. He traveled to Bella Vista twice a year with these guys for 30+ years and looked forward playing in the Hi-Cal tournament in Vegas every year. He loved the game, but it was the friendships and relationships made along the way that made it so special to him.
John was a member of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Kansas for 59 years, he belonged to Delia Lodge 419 which consolidated with Dover Lodge 138 in 2018. He was also a member of American Legion Post 117 in Billings, MT.
For the past 7 years, John dated Glenna Machin who lives in Wamego. Much time was spent enjoying the company of their friends, seeing the sights of Kansas, going to museums, trying new restaurants, and shopping at unique places together. Plays, musicals, and concerts were favorites of theirs. They shared a special, loving relationship that brought much joy to the last years of his life.
He was preceded in death by his parents, George and Maggie Blackard and older brother, Oral George “Slug” Blackard. He is survived by younger brother Bert Blackard of Independence KS. John’s children, George (Amy) Blackard of Billings, MT, Brandi Blackard of Topeka, KS Jennifer (Warren) Wilson of Topeka, KS, Rob Blackard, JoAnna (Dave) Cowser of Topeka and Jim (Shari) Gentry of Rossville. He had 10 grandchildren; Elizabeth, Emma, Abby, Dane, Megan, Taylor, Elise, Jacob, Derek, Trent and 7 great grandchildren; Allie, Jaylie, Paislee, Elliette, Brooks, Brinley and Elaina.
John was a man of integrity who loved his family, friends, and community well. He was kind and always had a story or joke to tell. His influence on others cannot be measured but he made a difference in this world and will be missed by many.
A Celebration of John’s life will be on Saturday, November 13th at 3pm at Rossville Grade School. Dinner will be served in the cafeteria afterward. We also invite everyone to the Rossville Legion at 6pm to tell stories, share memories and raise a glass in honor of John Blackard and a life well-lived.
Memorial contributions may be made to the John D. Blackard Memorial Scholarship Fund (for a Rossville and St. Marys senior that will be majoring in Education) and sent in care of Piper Funeral Home, 714 Maple St., St. Marys, Kansas 66536.
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