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Obituary: Blackwell

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F. Gerald Blackwell

F. Gerald Blackwell: 1944 – 2024

F. Gerald Blackwell was born on September 10, 1944, in Mendenhall, Mississippi to Philip Arden and Hazel Cordell Blackwell. He was the baby of the family but for only a short time as his twin, Eddie Harald, ruined that status. Through his life, Gerald was called by many different names including: dad, Mr. Blackwell, Jerry, Geeg, The Geeg but his most favorite name to be called was GG, which stood for or Grandpa Gerald. GG was the absolute best grandpa to his grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so many others, making it only fitting for his last breaths to be taken while he was surrounded by his family and the song “Grandpa”, by the Judds played. Gerald cruised to heaven during the late morning hours of March 1st as the Wyoming winds were whipping through Fruit Heights, Utah. 

Gerald grew up in Cleveland, Mississippi, with two older brothers, Philip Jr. and Wendell, an older sister, Louise, and his twin. He did not grow up with monetary wealth but he was rich with love and family. 

School came easy to Gerald, as did athletics. Gerald was an exceptional athlete, excelling on the football field and basketball court at Cleveland High School. Gerald attended Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, where he majored in mathematics, was a proud GDI (if you know, you know), and served as class president for a year. 

During his freshmen year, he wrote a letter to his girlfriend’s uncle, who was a U.S. Senator, with the hopes of getting a summer job with the federal government in Mississippi or another southern state so he would still be close to his girlfriend. Gerald did get a job with the National Forest Service, but it was in McCall, ID, a meager 2,057 miles away. That summer brought Gerald many things but little did he know a simple bet with a local girl, Ann Harwood, about jumping into Payette Lake, would lead to finding the love of his life. On June 25, 1967, Gerald married Ann; they remained married until her death in 2021.

Upon graduating from Delta State the couple moved to Seattle, Washington, for Gerald to work at Boeing, where he helped develop the glue which holds the panels on the 747 wings. It should be no surprise to anybody that his favorite part of this job was running over the panels to test the glue. After living in Memphis, Tennessee, Gerald attended graduate school at Mississippi State University where he studied engineering. Upon graduation, the couple lived in Mobile, Alabama, but ultimately made Cheyenne their forever home in 1973. 

That same year, Gerald began working for the State of Wyoming, Department of Environmental Quality, Air Quality Division (DEQ).  After over 33 years, Gerald retired from DEQ and started an asbestos company with his son, David.  They worked together until Gerald decided to really retire.

Gerald had a lifelong love of sports whether he was playing or watching them. Gerald took pride in refereeing high schools sports and helping to coach his children’s sports teams. When he wasn’t coaching he was ALWAYS there cheering his kids on, very loudly. He was also a faithful fan of the Denver Broncos and Wyoming Cowboys.

While family was his first love, restoring and playing with antique cars was not far behind. He would frequently purchase old rust buckets that were sitting abandoned in a field and restore them.  There wasn’t anything he couldn’t fix with a little WD-40, bailing wire and/or duct tape.  For this reason, his children apologize to anybody who purchased a vehicle from him. His love of antique cars was shared with his children, grandchildren, friends and strangers. He was a long-time member of the Oak Spokes Antique Car Club, serving as the President many times. He organized and participated in countless national antique car shows where his cars often placed in one of the top spots. He loved cruising in his old cars and showing off his new toys, which would arrive frequently.

GG took great pride in being a member of the Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD) Contract Acts Committee for over 40 years; initially as a chuck wagon race judge then checking IDs at the beer tent. It is unclear which assignment he enjoyed more because as a judge he had the privilege to meet many famous people, but at the beer tent he was closer to the beer. He was a staple in the CFD parades with his “Cheyenne or Bust” car.  He was like a little kid when he was preparing his car for the parade; covering it in mud, tying all the decorations on and, most importantly, borrowing a rooster to display on the back of the car. PETA can rest easy now, this is an end of an era and no roosters were hurt through the decades of partaking in the parade while attached to the back of the car. Gerald donated the final version of the “Bust” car to the Old West Museum so it may be part of CFD memorabilia forever.    

Gerald never met a stranger and would provide a helping hand to anybody he could. He was kind and generous to all and taught his children these traits through his everyday actions. He would give the shirt off his back to anybody in need with no expectation of anything in return. He made the people he met better for just knowing him and the world better by being in it.  He was all the good things in this world that we need more of. 

Gerald will be greatly missed by his two sons and daughters-in-law, Jeff and Tammy of Fruit Heights, Utah and David and Alicia of Cheyenne; one daughter and son-in-law, Beth and George Pitt of Cheyenne; two granddaughters, Toni (Chris Hopper) and Payton (Riley Pontillo); four grandsons: Zac, Chase, Trey (Alex) and Keenan; four great-granddaughters: Chloe, Scarlet, Evelyn, and Dottie; and one great-grandson, Truxton. He will also be missed by his brother, Phillip Jr., of Atlanta, Georgia; sister, Louise Tidmore, of Drew, Mississippi; many nieces and nephews; and too many friends to count that are considered family. 

He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 54 years, Ann Blackwell; his parents; brothers, Wendell and E. Harald; brothers-in-law A.C. Tidmore and Stan Harwood.

A celebration of Gerald Blackwell’s life will be hosted by his family on May 4, at the Cheyenne Frontier Days new Event Center.  Doors will open at 1:30 p.m. and services begin at 2:00 p.m. Wear jeans and a car or beer related shirt in honor of his love of both and his typical daily attire. 

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in his honor to the Davis Hospice Center, Black Dog Animal Rescue, or plant a tree in memory of Gerald.

Having grown up poor, Gerald was known for being painfully cheap and generally based his decisions, big and small, on the cost.  Therefore, his children have decided to not be cheap with his obituary.  We hope those of you who have wondered what the F. at the beginning of his name stood for now know. We love and miss you dad!