Service Scheduled For Vaughn R. Blankenship

 

Vaughn Rex Blankenship

Longtime Sitkan Vaughn Rex Blankenship passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, the morning of April 23, 2024.
Vaughn was born at home to Welland (Jack), and Rose Kochis Blankenship, on December 28, 1932, in Willamina, Oregon.  He was the older of two children.
When he was a teen, his family, set out from Bremerton, Washington, in a 24-foot wooden boat, and headed to Southeast Alaska. They dropped anchor in Petersburg, in 1946, and later settled in Security Bay. It was during this time that Vaughn had his first of many commercial fishing experiences.
In 1949 the family set out for Sitka, and tied up at the Cold Storage dock, and called Sitka “Home.”  It’s where he met his future wife, Marian J. Myers.  They married January 12, 1952.  Together, they had four children.
Vaughn had an eight-year military career during the Korean war. He was Sergeant 1st Class in the Alaska National Guard, stationed in Whittier,  alongside his father. He later transferred to the United States Army Reserve. He was awarded the National Defense Service Medal.
His long career included bartending, as a co-owner of the Pioneer Bar, and being a tugboat captain, skippering for Samson Tug & Barge. His construction career included work on the Blue Lake Dam, the O’Connell Bridge, Sitka Airport, and the Green Lake Dam project. Outside of Southeast Alaska Vaughn worked on the rebuilding of the Homer spit after the 1964 quake; the Skagway railroad; building the Alaska pipeline haul road; and the Snettisham Dam project. 
His passion though, was commercial fishing.  In 1973-74 he built the 46-foot fishing vessel, the Rose Lynn. Over the years he mentored many deckhands, including his youngest son and a few grandchildren, on the deck of the Rose Lynn.  Toward the end of his fishing career, and to enhance the salmon fishery in Southeast he contracted with DIPAC, out of Juneau, and Sitka’s NSRAA, transporting hatchery salmon smolt to pens in area bays. Often, Marian would join him on these excursions.
After retirement, Vaughn and Marian traveled extensively, road tripping throughout the years with their various RV’s. They traveled coast to coast, throughout Alaska, Canada, and the lower 48. They checked Australia, New Zealand, Panama Canal, and Hawaii off their ‘bucket list’ as well.  They cruised the Inside Passage for many summers, on their 42-foot pleasure boat, the Dream Chaser, visiting familiar places, family, and friends, along the way.
Vaughn was a member of the Sitka Elks and Moose Lodges, Operating Engineers #302, and a founding member of Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association.
He was preceded in death by their first-born son Daniel, son Robert Vaughn, brother Dan, and nephews Kenneth and Bill.
He leaves his wife of 72 years, Marian, of Sitka; daughter Rose (Al) of Toledo, Washington; son Brian (Annette) of Sitka; 11 grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren; and three great-great-grandchildren, with a fourth due in October.
Also surviving are his sister-in-law Margie Blankenship of Sitka; close cousins Joe Kochis of Parkdale, Oregon, and Sharlene Wickham of Vista, California; and several nieces and nephews in Alaska and Washington.
A celebration of his life will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Elks Lodge on Thursday, June 20.
“Family, friends, neighbors, please join us in celebrating Vaughn, on Summer Solstice 2024,” his family said. “Dad was ‘family famous’ for his ‘one-pot meals,’ a learned skill throughout his years of commercial fishing. ‘Dad’s Spaghetti,’ (our annual Family Christmas tradition meal), will be served this day.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Mariners Wall, payable to SEAWIF (Southeast Alaska Women in Fisheries), P.O. Box 2276, Sitka, AK 99835. SEAWIF takes donations for the “Kids Don’t Float” program as well.

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