Grace Blackburn, 94
Grace Marie (Cardwell) Blackburn, 94, a former resident of Malvern, passed away peacefully on April 15, 2023, at a retirement community in Lewisville, Texas.
She was born in Malvern, on June 2, 1928, to John Robert (Bob) and Grayce (Burrows) Cardwell, who operated a plumbing and heating business there. She grew up during the Depression of the 1930s and graduated from Malvern Community High School in 1945. She studied music at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln until she married William Glenn (Bill) Blackburn in November 1947. They made their home in Malvern, IA. She met Bill while working as a summer clerk at Salyers Auto, where Bill, a WWII veteran, worked as a mechanic. Later, the couple owned and operated Blackburn DX, distributing fuel oil and oil products, as well as operating a gas station on N. Main Street in Malvern. Grace served as the company’s Bookkeeper and Administrative Manager.
They had three sons, William R. Blackburn (Sara) of Long Grove, Ill.; Michael K. Blackburn (Angela) of Malvern, and Argyle, Texas; and Stephen G. Blackburn (Susan) of Grand Island, Neb. In 2019, she moved to an assisted living community in Flower Mound, Texas, near her son, Michael, and his extended family.
Grace put her music skills to good use in the Malvern community for decades. In keeping with her strong faith, she was a member of the First Presbyterian Church and later the Malvern United Methodist Church for a combined 87 years. She was the only pianist and organist for the Presbyterian Church and spent many faithful years serving as a member of the Guild and Social Union. Additionally, she performed many years in the Sunday choir and in the Easter Cantata and the Messiah. She enjoyed teaching Sunday School and served as secretary of the Methodist women’s group.
In her later years, she worked as organist in the music program at the Glenwood State School and assisted with special education student programs at the Glenwood community schools. She frequently preformed at nursing homes and at funerals in the area.
Grace was a long-term member of the American Legion Auxiliary, often serving as president. The group provided support for veterans, decorated their graves, and served funeral dinners for many of the town’s residents.
Following in the footsteps of her mother, she loved flower gardening. She was a dedicated member of the Malvern Garden Club, serving many terms as president. The club helped encourage the beautification of Malvern.
Despite her busy schedule, she always found time to attend her sons’ and grandchildren’s school and community activities. She was the Cub Scout den mother when her sons were members. She and husband Bill formed a town 4-H club in Malvern in the early 1960s for the benefit of her sons and other town boys. She was a dedicated caregiver to her parents in their declining years.
Grace loved to go ballroom dancing with her husband and their friends, and in later years enjoyed Bridge Club. She was an avid reader and closely followed current events. Grace and Bill were fond of walking the timbers of the Loess Hills each spring with friends in search of the elusive morel mushroom. The two squeezed in a few wonderful foreign trips to Puerto Rico, Mexico and Switzerland.
She was of feisty Scotch-Irish stock, as marked by her beautiful auburn hair, and was always quick to defend her family, friends, town, country, and political party. She more than held her own with her three brothers and three sons; she didn’t take sass. She was a devoted and loving daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend. Many deeply mourn her passing.
Grace is survived by her three sons; brother, Richard Cardwell (Marlene) of Omaha; brother-in-law, Bruce Blackburn (Janet) of Tabor; sister-in-law, Patricia Cardwell of Des Moines; and seven grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 67 years, William G. Blackburn in 2015; grandson, Cameron W. Blackburn; parents, John and Grayce Cardwell; parents-in-law, William C. and Cleo Blackburn; step-mother, Hazel Cardwell; step-mother-in-law, Mary Blackburn; brothers, James and William Cardwell, and in-laws, Max, Zylpha, Eleanor, Richard, Jean and infant Jackie DeWayne Blackburn and Dorothy and Phyllis Cardwell.
Graveside services for Grace were held on June 3, 2023, at the Malvern Cemetery with a Celebration of Life for Grace at the Malvern Community Building at noon. In lieu of flowers, The Grace Blackburn Memorial Fund has been established for donations in her honor to be used to benefit the Malvern community and Iowa, the place she loved and called home for 90 years. Please send all donations to The Grace Blackburn Memorial Fund c/o the Malvern Bank PO Box 120 Malvern, IA 51551.