William “Bill” Ray Blackaby (1935-2012)
Born October 10, 1935 to Clarence Earl and Katherine Ruth (Heathman) Blackaby, Bill Blackaby, 76, passed away early on Friday, April 27, 2012 from the effects of bone cancer.
Bill graduated from Paris High School in Paris, Missouri in 1953. In 1954, he enlisted in the United States Army. Bill’s active duty took him to posts in Virginia, Alaska, South Korea, West Germany and finally Fort Carson, Colorado. A highlight of his military service was being a member of Fort Carson mountain rescue team that conducted emergency rescue operations as well as public exhibitions of mountain climbing skills. He frequently recounted stories of nearly blind midnight mountain walks led by an old “Swede” to break new team members of any fear of heights. In August of 1961, the Fort Carson mountain rescue unit was part of what The Pueblo Chieftain called “the largest manhunt in Southern Colorado history” after a 7 year-old boy, Johnny Valles, went missing. The mountain rescue operation ended successfully after more than 72 hours when Bill located the boy in the rugged hill country. Bill was honorably discharged in late 1968 but would later return to military service joining the Missouri Army National Guard in 1975. He rose to the rank of Sergeant Major (E-9) before retiring in 1982 with a combined 22 years of military service.
Bill married Annette Baker on November 24, 1957 in Mexico, Missouri and the couple spent their early marriage in West Germany and Colorado. Following discharge, the couple returned to Paris. Over the years, he worked in the agriculture business for Callis Farm Service and Brayton Chemicals (later Brayton Wilbur-Ellis). A position with Con-Agra took the couple to Pittsfield, Illinois for a short period of time before Bill retired from the agriculture business. The couple returned to the area and settled in Mexico. In retirement, Bill took a position as barracks supervisor for the Missouri Military Academy.
In recent years, Bill and Ann spent much of their time traveling frequently to Colorado, California, Kentucky, Montana and Texas visiting friends and family including lifelong military friends Dan Wilcox and Vance Austin. At home, Bill constructed an enclosed porch swing from which the couple spent hours watching wildlife, visiting friends and enjoying quiet time.
Bill was preceded in death by his father, Clarence Earl Blackaby and mother Katherine Ruth (Heathman) Durbin. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Annette (Baker), his daughter, Katherine (Stephen) Fisher of Vandalia; a son, Dean (Janet) Blackaby of Helena, Montana; and another son, Dan of Houston, Texas. He is also survived by seven grandchildren (Kurt, LeAnn and Carrie Fisher; Graham, Kelsey, Faith and Addison Blackaby)
Visitation was held at Agnew Funeral Home in Paris on May 2nd 5 to 7. Graveside services on May 3rd with full military honors at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Jacksonville, Missouri. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Bill’s name to J.B. and Greta B. Arthur Cancer