Sherley John Blackburn

December 2, 1929September 18, 2022
Obituary of Sherley John Blackburn
Raleigh, North Carolina - Sherley John Blackburn, devoted husband, doting father, beloved grandfather, and exemplary friend to everyone he met, passed away peacefully at home in Raleigh, North Carolina, after a prolonged illness. Family, friends, and church surrounded him throughout his life and rallied around him in his last days. Sherley loved the Scriptures, especially the Psalms. Psalm 35:5 was especially poignant in his 5:05 AM Sunday morning passing: His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” Sherley was born on December 2, 1929, to the late Ethel Maynard Blackburn and the late Fred Anderson Blackburn in Rock Creek, Wilkes County, North Carolina. Upon graduation from Mountain Park High School, Sherley enrolled in the United States Air Force to serve his country for four years during the Korean War. He then returned to Appalachian State University to complete his degree, where he met his future wife Mildred Elizabeth Laney of Maiden, N.C. They married in 1955. After they were married, Sherley went on to graduate school at Tulane University, then received his Master in Administration from UNC (MSW) and NCSU post-graduate work in Management Systems. Sherley was an active leader with a heart for the disadvantaged. He achieved much to be proud of in his life. He started his leadership path early in high school as a national winner in the 4-H Forestry Club Project, with a trip to Chicago accompanied by Governor William Kerr Scott. He served honorably in the United States Air Force; he had a distinguished professional career; a beautiful wife, a devoted family, and an array of friends who loved his laughter and his jokes. He was a light in every room and known as a “true gentleman" with a smile "that could brighten any space." He was a man of great character, whose life and leadership reflected the qualities of faith, family, and friendship. Sherley accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior in 1945. His faith guided his life's journey. He served in various roles as a dedicated church member and leader. He especially enjoyed his time as Chairman of the Board of Deacons, Sunday School teacher, and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the South Fork Baptist Association, to name a few. Sherley and his wife, Mildred, considered one of their key legacies to be the formation and founding of the Center View Baptist Church Preschool in Maiden, N.C. Sherley enjoyed leadership roles in North Carolina State Government Administration. Although he was always a social worker at heart, he became County Director of Social Services in Avery County and Surry County. He then moved his family to Raleigh to become the Chief of Social Services for the Blind and led efforts for the resettlement of the Indochinese Refugees. Sherley retired at 55 years young from the State of North Carolina, leading statewide efforts in the Department of Health and Human Resources. To honor his career, Sherley was inducted into the Governor's Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor James B. Hunt. He was also previously given plaques of appreciation from Governor Dan K. Moore for his service to the people of North Carolina. Sherley participated in many professional and civic organizations. He served as Lion's Club President and First Vice President in Dobson and Raleigh, N.C., Past Vice Chairman of the Area 23 State Employees Association, Member of the Board for the State Employees Credit Union, and Past President of the Balls Creek Optimist Club in Maiden, N.C. In retirement, Sherley moved with his wife Mildred to their farm in Maiden, N.C., to focus on his passions, which included farming, the outdoors, fishing, and sports. Sherley was an avid outdoorsman, a master gardener with State Fair awards to his credit, and a natural athlete. In retirement, being a country boy at heart, he thrived. He managed a small herd of American Polled Hereford cattle and enjoyed his garden, which included his famous blueberries, and cultivated beautiful trees and bushes of all varieties. Sherley and Mildred also purchased a home near Linville, N.C., in retirement, where they enjoyed many hours of hiking, entertaining their growing family, and being in creation which always renewed their souls. In retirement, he also enjoyed his first love which was coaching: he coached little league baseball, girls' softball, and boys' basketball. Finally, whenever he could travel, he would go! Trips to Canada, Mexico, and across the United States were mentioned as favorite destinations. In 2013, Sherley moved to Raleigh to be closer to his family. He valued the time spent with family and his new friends at Magnolia Glen Continuing Care Retirement Community. Sherley never met a stranger and brought many others into his fold. Wanting to contribute, Sherley served on the Board at Magnolia Glen and was constantly winning Bingo - with a resulting humble brag and sharing of his "winnings." At the time of his passing, he attended Holy Trinity Anglican Church with his family and was embraced by this welcoming congregation. He was predeceased in 2011 by his wife, Mildred Laney Blackburn of Maiden, N.C. He was also predeceased by his parents, Ethel Maynard Blackburn and Fred Anderson Blackburn of North Wilkesboro, N.C., brothers Howard Blackburn of North Wilkesboro, N.C., Charlie Blackburn of Elkin, N.C., Millard Blackburn of Rural Hall, N.C., and sisters Bettie Jo Blackburn of North Wilkesboro, N.C., and infant Louise Blackburn of North Wilkesboro, N.C. Sherley is survived by a family that adored him: daughters Marcie Blackburn Gordon and husband Darrell Grey Gordon of Raleigh, N.C., and Teresa Blackburn Hoffman and husband John Michael Hoffman of Holly Springs, N.C. He is also survived by five grandchildren who will miss his jokes, smiles, gentle spirit, and constant acts of love: Kristen Munsey Beckham of Columbia, S.C., Greyson Laney Gordon and wife Margaret Kaufmann Gordon of Raleigh, N.C., Step-grandchildren by marriage but full grandchildren in love Rev. Katelyn Gordon Cooke and Rev. Andrew Edward Cooke of Augusta, GA; Emily Hoffman Young and husband Chad Everett Young of Gaithersburg, MD., and Matthew Michael Hoffman of San Francisco, CA. He is also survived by step-great-grandchildren Charles “Charlie” Andrew Cooke (who shares Sherley's December 2nd birthday), Oliver Myles Young, Austin Chase Young, and Cadence Jane Young. Sherley will be remembered by family and a multitude of good friends and church members who enjoyed his quick wit, his empathy, his generosity, and his love for Jesus. Sherley's journey on earth may be complete, but his legacy will be carried forward by all of those granted the extraordinary gifts of his guidance and friendship. The family would like to thank and acknowledge the staff at Magnolia Glen and the wonderful aides who guided Dad through the pandemic and his last days. We would especially like to recognize Delores Nash from Interim Health Care who brightened his every day for over 10 years. In Sherley's last months, AllCare Home Health rose to the challenge as a strong partner in this journey. We are immensely grateful. A memorial service will be held at 3:00 PM on Sunday, September 25th, at Center View Baptist Church, 3993 East Maiden Road, Maiden, N.C. Family visitation will be prior to the service from 1:30 – 2:45 PM. Please continue to check the Drum Funeral Home website for a future Raleigh service. In place of flowers, please send memorials to Center View Baptist Preschool, Center View Baptist Church, 3993 East Maiden Road, Maiden, N.C., or a charity of one's choice. Services by Drum Funeral Home, 509 1st Ave S., Conover, N.C.

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  • Center View Baptist Church Preschool 3993 East Maiden Rd, Maiden, North Carolina 28650

Past Services

Sunday, September 25, 2022


Sunday, September 25, 2022

Celebration of Life

Sunday, September 25, 2022