WALTER VERN BLANKENSHIP
September 27, 2012
Walter Vern Blankenship, 87, of Sunnyside passed away peacefully at his home on Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2012, in Sunnyside, from Lewy Body Dementia.
He was born Nov. 14, 1924 in Richfield, Kansas to Garfield and Eunice (Tripp) Blankenship. Walt moved from Kansas to Sunnyside with his family in 1939. He graduated from Sunnyside High School in 1942.
Walt and his wife, Dorothy, would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Sept. 26, 2012.
Walt will be remembered for his never-ending humor, wit, patience and infectious smile.
At the age of 18, Walt was drafted into the U.S. Army on July 28, 1943 and was part of the Co I 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. On April 18, 1945, Walt was wounded on le Shima, a small island just west of Okinawa, while evacuating a wounded comrade. Walt received many decorations including the Purple Heart, Asiatic Pacific Ribbon, WWII Victory Medal and the American Theater Ribbon. His love and dedication for his country was apparent to his family and friends.
After Walt returned from the war, he met the love of his life, Dorothy Johnson, one evening while driving the Sunnyside 'strip'. They married on Sept. 26, 1952 and celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this year in spirit. Inseparable, their journeys took them too many places.
Always a very hard worker, Walt drove long-haul trucks and was a heavy equipment operator. He worked road construction throughout Washington, Oregon and Idaho on many counties, forest and highway roads.
During the summer, his family followed him throughout the Northwest, living in a travel trailer and having the time of their lives. After his children left home, Walt and Dorothy continued working and traveling together on every job. They spent many winters in Arizona, traveling in their motorhome with friends.
Walt and Dorothy lived in the same home in Sunnyside for more than 55 years. Many friends would pull in a car or truck into Dad's shop so he could help them repair it or just to have a cold beverage and talk.
We enjoyed many Friday pizza nights at their house. Dad was always willing to help out a friend and easily made strangers into friends. In the years before he became ill, you could often find him visiting friends in the hospital, assisted living or nursing homes.
He always thought of others before himself, a life-long and defining attribute that he instilled in his family.
Walt was an inspiration and remarkable role model to his children and grandchildren. His enthusiasm for math inspired his daughter to become a math teacher. His life chosen career of being a truck driver/heavy equipment operator was passed on to his son. His gift of gab, smiling personality, and commitment to help others was passed on to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His granddaughter, Angie, felt it was an honor and a privilege to care for her grandfather in his last years.
Thank you brother, husband, dad, grandpa and friend for everything you taught and sacrificed for us.
Walt is survived by his best friend and loving wife of 60 years, Dorothy Blankenship of Sunnyside; their daughter, Laurel (Mike) Carpino of Zillah; son, David (Karen) Blankenship of Wapato; seven grandchildren, Julie (Clint) Anderson, Angela (Mark) Westenberg, Tommy (Heather) Judkins, Michael Carpino, Matthew Carpino, Vivian and Max Weisbarth; nine great-grandchildren, Morgan Westenberg, Tawnee and Teagan Bynum, Auslyn and Asher Schab, Calie, Cole and Case Judkins and Haylee Carpino; brothers, Lee (Ellie) Blankenship and Bernard Blankenship of Olympia; and many friends, and his caregivers, Danielle and Korina.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Garfield and Eunice Blankenship; brother, Lawrence Blankenship, and sisters, Gladys Rogers and Lois Brooks.
Celebration of Walt's life will be held Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, at 2 p.m. at Smith Funeral Home in Sunnyside, with a reception to follow after memorial services at Sunnyside VFW.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that those wishing to honor Walt's life and memory may make memorial contributions to Yakima Regional Hospice or to the charity of your choice.
Those wishing to sign Walter's on-line memorial book may do so at www.funeralhomesmith.com
Smith Funeral Home Ltd. and Crematory in Sunnyside is in charge of arrangements.