James Ray Blankenship

Thursday, June 25, 2020
James Ray Blankenship

James Ray Blankenship, born on January 11, 1936 in Reyno, Ark., passed away peacefully on June 15, 2020, at his home in Sugar Grove, Ill., at the age of 84.

James, fondly known to many as Jim, lived his life in the service of others. He served his country as a Firefighter for the Strategic Air Command of the United States Air Force and Air Force Reserves from 1957 to 1969. He continued to serve his community as a tool and die maker at the Darling Store Fixtures in Corning, Ark., and by spending his weekends helping his wife Florene at her grocery store and restaurant.

Jim and Florene met at a dance, one of their favorite pastimes, and married on May 20, 1978. Together they built a beautiful life in their Pollard, Ark., home where he loved to build and work with his hands, paint, fish and help in the garden.

After Florene’s death in 2011, Jim moved to Sugar Grove, where he spent his last years surrounded by family, love and lots of great grandbabies.

Many will remember Jim best for the food and laughter shared at his dining room table (especially chocolate gravy in the morning), the infectious way he laughed, his affinity for John Wayne movies and the joy he found in every day.

Jim is survived by his children, David (Kellie) Blankenship of Sugar Grove, Ill., Debbie Sizemore of Florence, Ky. and Connie (Jeff) Palmer of Lincoln, Neb.; sisters Dorothy O’Neal of Rockford, Ill. and Genevieve Holland of Belleville, Ill.; grandchildren Brittany (Adam) Ruff of Michigan, Amber (Ryan) Slattery of Wisconsin, Kelley (Greg) Chrisse, Keith Runkle, Shelbie (Danny) Marek, and Josh Walsh of Illinois, Chad Lunsford, Brooks Sizemore, and Matthew Sizemore of Kentucky, Courtney Palmer of Texas, Alexis Palmer of Nebraska, LaTonya (Steve) Schreck, and Carol Cantu of Arkansas; and 20 great-grandchildren.

Jim was preceded in death by his wife, Florene Blankenship; his parents, Benjamin R Blankenship, and Susan M. (Justice) Blankenship; brothers, Benny Blankenship, John Blankenship, Vernon Blankenship and Bud Blankenship; sisters, Lorene Sheppard, Katherine Smith and Mildred Oxner; and stepson Ronnie Gunnels.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, July 7, at the New Hope Baptist Church in Pollard. The service will begin at 11 a.m. and will be followed by a burial ceremony at the New Hope Cemetery in Pollard. Jim will be buried with his beloved, Florene.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the American Parkinson Disease Association at www.apdaparkinson.org to help continue the progress against a disease which ailed Jim for much of his life.