Deceased May 21, 2016

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50th Reunion Book Entry

In Memory

Jim Blackburn passed away peacefully on May 21 after a short illness—just a few days short of his 60th Amherst reunion—with family at his side.

Jim received his divinity degree at the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1959 and an M.A. from Penn in 1969.

He loved the Episcopal Church, even in times of conflict. Echoing the late Bishop James Pike, he liked to describe the attraction of the Episcopal Church in the words of the psalm: “Lord, I thank thee that thou hast set my feet in a large room.”

Throughout his life, Jim fought for equality and peace. During the Vietnam War, he counseled young men on alternatives to selective service and tolerated, with grace, wiretaps on his phone and government harassment.

In the years before abortion was legal, he was one of a small group of clergy in Philadelphia who participated in the Clergy Consultation Service, helping women seeking to terminate their pregnancies.

During the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and ’70s, he traveled to Alabama to participate in the Selma marches.

Reflecting on the mood in Alabama during those days he said, “I have never been in a situation where I saw so much hatred from the eyes of white people. And so much ‘we’re together and I’m glad you’re here’ from the black people.”

He supported the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church and attended the ordination service of the “Philadelphia 11” in Philadelphia in July 1974.

He was class secretary for more than 30 years.

Jim is survived by his wife of 29 years, Judy; sons John (Cynthia Blackburn), Paul (Kristen Dillon) and David ’91 (Megan Beardsley ’90); stepson Jonathan Busky (Galen Sherwin); brother Dave ’53; nieces Carol and Barbara ’79; and six grandchildren.

David Blackburn ’91

50th Reunion

James Blackburn
I was born in Cleveland, but spent most of my growing up-years in Harrisburg and, later, in suburban Philadelphia. My high school was Lower Merion. It is a fine public high school, and even had a crew team on which I rowed. It was in Junior High and High School that I discovered my love for music and singing.

At Amherst I continued my singing, in the Chapel Choir and the Glee Club. It was the influence of Phil Zabriskie and Ted Greene that opted to "try" theological seminary for a year. After that year, the issue was settled, and I was ordained a Deacon in the Spring of 1959 and a Priest in December. How 46 years have flown! My posts in the Episcopal Church took me from Phila¬delphia to Kansas, back to Philadelphia, to Delaware, to New Jersey, to Baltimore, to the District of Columbia, to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and back to Baltimore.

James Blackburn
My position titles were Curate, Archdeacon, Rector, Founding Pastor, Archdeacon again, Associate Rector, Interim Rector (a number of times) and, now, Pastoral Associate. The last means that the local parish has a claim on me one day a week.

I am also on the Board of Planned Parenthood of Maryland and currently the chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. In addition, I have been teaching seniors (not college seniors, but seniors our age!) at both Notre Dame, a local women's college and at Towson University. My current courses are on the poetry of T.S. Eliot. I think Ted Baird would roll over on this one!

I was married for twenty years to Betsy Burall. We produced three sons who live, respectively, in Charleston, SC, Hood River, OR and Montclair, NJ. I have four grandchildren (who are, from an objective point of view, just outstanding.) Judy and I were mar¬ried in 1986 and I am so glad that we found each other. She has a son who was married last August in Bradford­ on-Avon, near Bath, England. We love working with our house and our gardens. We have found that we both love the opera and take in the season at the Kennedy Center in Washington, as well as other places as possible. We also attend the concerts of the Baltimore Symphony, the chamber concerts at Shriver Hall at Johns Hopkins, and theater at Center Stage in Baltimore.

Life is busy, we are both in good health, and enjoying this part of the journey. Oh lest they get jealous- we share the house with Kundry, our calicocat, and Izzy,our terrier mix.

James Blackburn