Marlene Blackburn (née Hicks) passed away on March 3, 2020. She was tougher than both congestive heart failure and emphysema, but ultimately, she was not meaner than cancer.
Marlene was born to James (Jim) and Sarah Jane Josephine (Josie) Hicks in Marshfield, Missouri, on Feb. 21, 1954. She inherited her feisty nature from her mother — a spitfire if ever there was one. She teased her siblings mercilessly, though she shared a birthdate with her younger brother and thought of him as her birthday gift. Many called Marlene ornery. She took it as a compliment and proudly embraced it as her calling.
Marlene lived much of her life in Oroville, and she also called Rock Island, Mattawa and Vancouver home.
Marlene married the love of her life, Randall (Randy) Blackburn, of Twisp, in 1982 and, after blending their family of six children, they fostered and adopted dozens more.
Throughout her life, she worked in many arenas, including fruit packing and food service. She also worked as a paraprofessional in elementary schools and as a security guard at music concerts, arguably equally dangerous professions. She enjoyed working outside the home, and prided herself on being able to get a job done, no matter what. At 5 foot nothing, she always stood her ground and held her own in any situation, even when she was punched in the face by a rowdy concertgoer.
Marlene loved to crochet and made beautiful blankets for everyone’s babies and anyone who asked. But she never quite mastered color coordination, so her children especially loved her solid-colored works of art.
She was a jokester, and quick with a witty comeback. She was known to get on a full elevator and begin singing and twerking, just to elicit odd looks and laughter. Without her glasses, she was able to make out only shapes and colors, which resulted in her pulling down a stranger’s shorts in a public swimming pool when she tried to prank a friend, and her family never let her live it down.
Marlene loved country music. She performed a karaoke version of “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” shortly before she passed, which she was fond of saying flippantly when someone wasn’t happy with something she’d said or done.
Marlene never met a curse word she didn’t like. She peppered sentences with the F-bomb like she was blackening a steak. At least one of her children was expelled from school for cursing, and she went to the school and showed everyone that her children learned from the master.
Marlene’s sense of wanderlust was strong. She explored places near and far, though rarely let anyone know where she was going or when she might return. Her friends and family often wondered what had become of her. Informal search parties were not uncommon.
In 2015, she was preceded in death by her beloved, Randy. They are together at last, unless she’s wandering still. Also there to greet her on the other side were her parents, Josie and Jim, her older brother Verlin, with whom she shared a sense of humor and ability to laugh at any situation, and her grandson Taylor.
She is survived by her sister Darlene (Wayne) Prince — with whom she giggled like schoolgirls shortly before she died — her brother Gus (Kim) Hicks, nieces Trisha Allworth, Tamra Simpson, Angela Hicks, Shannon Hicks, Cathy Davis, Beth Hicks Akin, and Tawyna Hicks-Harless, and nephews Bruce Allworth and Bobby Cordle. She is also survived by more grandchildren and great grandchildren than she could count, though she tried.
Her children, Jeanne (Andrew) Blackburn, Vanessa (David) Jarrett, Melissa Lindsey, Lucas (Amanda) Blackburn, Thomas (Alisia) Blackburn, Sarah (Sam) Fedderson, Miranda Blackburn, Kace Blackburn, and Tayton James Blackburn will carry on their mother’s penchant for finding adventure wherever they wander. Her daughters will proudly carry on her legacy of showing the world what it means to be a woman who can’t and won’t be ignored.
A memorial service was held on Monday (March 9), at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Twisp, followed by a graveside service for family and friends at Beaver Creek Cemetery, where she was laid to rest. In honor of her favorite color, attendees were encouraged to wear pink.
Condolences and questions can be directed to her daughter Jeanne at (480) 293-4030.