The man for whom the Cleveland location of the National Guard Armory was named passed away Sunday.
Retired Sgt. Maj. James W. Blackburn was also a former assistant director of the Cleveland-Bradley County Emergency Management Agency.
He was the patriarch for three generations of Blackburns who have served in the National Guard.
Blackburn served more than 44 years. The local armory was named in his honor in 1991 after he was retired “by age.”
He had joined the Guard in 1947, as part of the 278th Infantry.
His son Alan followed in his footsteps in 1982, and his grandson Jake joined the guard as part of the 278th in 2013.
According to a Cleveland Daily Banner article, Blackburn’s brother, “Pinky” Blackburn also attained the rank of sergeant major.
After literally “growing up at the local armory, his son Allen felt it was his duty to enlist in the guard.
After he was retired from the guard, Blackburn joined the staff at CBCEMA, and was later named deputy director of the agency.
Current CBCEMA Director Troy Spence took Blackburn’s position when Blackburn retired from the agency.
“James taught a lot of people in our business about radiological monitoring and other emergency preparedness programs. He helped mold our program to what it is today,” said Spence.
“Today we will go to Sequoyah Nuclear facility meeting and exercise, where what he taught us will be reflected upon every time we hold [these types of] exercises and programs. Our condolences go out to his family regarding his passing,” Spence added.
Visitation is set from 5 to 8 p.m. today at the James W. Blackburn National Guard Armory, located on Dalton Pike.
Fike-Randolph & Son Funeral Home are in charge of funeral arrangements.