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Merle Dean Blankenship
March 12, 1946 ~ October 1, 2023 (age 77) 77 Years Old
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It is with a heavy heart that the family of Merle Dean Blankenship, age 77, of Penrose, Colorado announces his passing. Merle was born March 12, 1946, in Tillamook, Oregon to Ezra and Ellen Blankenship and rode off into a never-ending pasture in heaven on October 1, 2023, peacefully in his home. He was the true definition of a cowboy. He loved hunting, and camping, was an amazing cook, loved leather work, and lit up any room he walked into.
Merle was a beloved father, grandfather, brother, friend, uncle and soon to be a great-grandfather to Tatum Chayse. He is survived by his daughter, Deana Chapman (Troy) of Days Creek, Oregon; bonus son, Alan Tapp (Quannisha) of Sacramento California; bonus daughter, Jody Jozwiak (Michael) of Colorado Springs, Colorado; bonus son, Scotty Clewly (Julie); grandchildren, Garrett Russell (Madison, “Matilda” as Merle called her), Terrell Russell (McKenna), Zachary, Logan, Paul, Joshua Tapp, as well as numerous bonus grandchildren; and siblings, Marilyn Jean Blankenship and Mary (Molly) Little. Merle was preceded in death by his siblings, Franklin Gerald (Jerry) Ausmus, Ola (Paige) Howard, and Gloria (Gail) Schulze.
Merle attended Oregon State College where he received his degree as a farrier. He then enlisted in the Army where he became the Mule Skinner for the Army mules. When you see the “A” on the army mules at the games, that was something started by Merle. He was a Forester for Roseburg Forest Products, a Deputy for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department, operated two meat shops in Southern Oregon, and worked for the BLM in the recreation department. Merle also volunteered and became a part of the Wild Mustang program in Canon City as well as a lifetime member of the Rocky Mountain Back Country Horseman. After retirement, he began hauling wild mustangs to adoptees across the United States. Merle was an avid horseman putting thousands of miles on his horses. He was most at peace on the back of his horse in the mountains. Merle was a joker and could always make people laugh. His daughter, Deana, named after him, was his pride and joy. Her personality and humor are natural born qualities she inherited from her beloved father.
We cannot express how heartbroken we are with his passing. He always found the good in every situation and would give you the shirt off his back. “Merle was born a Cowboy” and as George Strait once said, “Oh the last goodbye’s the hardest one to say, and this is where the cowboy rides away”.
Funeral arrangements are still pending. We will reach out to everyone once we have a date.