James Blankenship Passes Away

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James Blankenship

James Curtis Blankenship passed away on Feb. 10, 2022 at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland of heart disease caused by COVID-19, contracted in July 2021. James, aka Jim, Jimmy and Bimbo, was 64 years old when he left this world.

James was born on June 1, 1957 at Emanuel Medical Center in Portland to Samuel and Betty Marlnee Blankenship. James was welcomed by older siblings, Gordon and Ona. Later he welcomed younger sister, Kimberly.

James returned to work at Columbia Basin Extracting in Hermiston after COVID, but had to quit in December due to his declining health. James kept the seriousness of his ailments to himself, always replying, “Not too bad,” when asked how he was doing.

As a child, James lived in Oregon and Washington except for his years in the Navy. He started school in Sunnyside, Wash., then following his father’s jobs, moved to Sweet Home, Albany, Foster, Stanfield and Echo. While he was in grade school, Samuel and Betty divorced and each remarried. James lived with his mother, Betty, who married Lawrence Tucker. Larry brought step brother Greg. Betty and Larry moved to Snohomish, Wash., then Olympia, Wash., then Eugene and Springfield before settling in Grand Coulee, Wash. Samuel married Edith Brown, and they moved to Orofino, Idaho. Edith brought step brother Nelson and step sister Connie. Samuel retired and ended up in Hermiston.

James graduated from Lake Roosevelt High School in 1975. He spent a short time enjoying life in Grand Coulee before joining the Navy. James spent four years as a boiler/refrigeration mechanic on a fast frigate. James got to visit the world as his ship journeyed around the seas. He especially loved Australia and often spoke of how the Australian ladies loved the U.S. sailors. When his tour was up, James began a series of jobs at various companies starting in Spokane, then he moved to Irrigon, where he bought his home and lived with his birds until he passed.

James bought his first BMW, a silver coup, in Spokane and fell in love. He loved to race and joined a BMW club, whose owners toured together. He drove the little silver car to Texas to race. He bought his second BMW in Portland and it was his road car.

When he was a toddler, “Bimbo” by Jim Reeves was popular and the child described in the song sounded just like James, so he was given the nickname of “Bimbo.” At night the local radio station would play “Bimbo” and then announce, “Now go to sleep, little Bimbo.” To his older sister, he always remained “Baby Bimbo.”

While in school, James would read the encyclopedia, then argue with his teachers when they made a mistake while teaching. James would stand his ground, and he was usually right. He continued to read and educate himself throughout his life and continued to argue if he felt strong enough about the subject. James was loving, generous and stubborn, family traits he came by honestly. James was a man who valued family, friends and integrity. He was patriotic, valued the constitution, and believed in truth, justice and honesty.

James is survived by brother, Gordon (Molly) Blankenship; sister, Ona (Michael) Felker; step sister, Connie Smith; uncle Rock Wright; nieces and nephews, Heather (Davie) Sprigg, Gina Quillan, Curtis (Monica) Blankenship, Brandon Smith, Alaina Smith, Icey Straley and Tiffany Swartout; several cousins, great nieces and nephews; as well as close friends, Jamey Gibbs and Cliff Hauger.

James was preceded in death by mother, Betty Tucker; father, Samuel Blankenship; sister, Kimberly Marlnee; step father, Lawrence Tucker; step mother, Edith Blankenship; nephew, Jason Blankenship; grandmother, Stella Wright; and many other loved ones.

A military graveside service will be held on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022 at 1 p.m. at Echo Cemetery.

A reception will follow at Crossroads Community Church in Stanfield.

Please share memories of James with his family at burnsmortuaryhermiston.com.

Burns Mortuary of Hermiston is in care of arrangements.