Johnny H. Blakley was born in Callahan County on February 3, 1889. He was the third child born to Eugene and Edna Blakley.
In 1898 the family moved to Dickens County, settling one mile west of Midway on the land Grandpa and Uncle Bud Sartor had homesteaded. Moving to Dickens County was an important event in the family life and to Johnny. He told of how they loaded the wagons to make the long trip, which would only be a short distance today. He brought a little cannon ball that his grandfather, J.A. Blakley, had given him. Grandpa told him not to bring it, because the wagons were overloaded, but he slipped in the tail end of Grandma´s wagon. He was able to keep it for many years. Johnny always remembered the snow storm and having to leave Grandma´s broken wagon as they were climbing Dickens Hill.
Upon reaching their new home, they found it to be a half dug-out with a big fireplace, which would fascinate any 9 year old boy. Uncle Bud had bought Johnny a little pair of silver spurs, and they were hanging on one of the big beams that held up the roof. This was a joy that Johnny would never forget.
When he was a teenager, he had a horse named Trixie. He would tell his children stories about her for hours. He told how she would play hide-n-seek with him. He would hide and whistle for her and she would look for him. One day he decided he would see if she would follow him in the house, which she did. Aunt Sissie was very upset about this, which is very understandable since she had so much responsibility. Later, Johnny said, "I shouldn´t have done that to Sissie."
In 1923 he married Gwendolyn Iris Parker near Dickens, Texas. He was 34 years old and she was 17 at the time. They were married by a Baptist preacher, Luther Bilberry. Most of their lives they lived on grandpa Blakley´s farm. They had three daughters, Mable, Doris, and Johnnie Ann, plus a baby boy who died when he was an infant.
When Grandpa Blakley´s farm was sold, Johnny and his family moved to Spur, Texas where they lived until his death.
Gwendolyn was a marvelous Christian wife to Johnny and a wonderful mother to his children. She never ceased to pray for him for more than 50 years. Thus, when Johnny was 79 years old, he gave his life to Jesus Christ in a hospital room at West Texas Hospital. His life was totally different from that day forward. He asked his family to pray for him that he would be physically able to get out of the hospital, so that he could follow the Lord in baptism. The Lord honored these prayers by allowing him to return home and to be baptized. It mattered not to him or his family that he had to sit in a chair in order to be baptized. Johnny was 80 years old at this time and had developed many friendships through the years. People came from far and near to witness this event. There were about as many people at his baptism as there were seven years later at his funeral. In fact, the church was almost full. Brother Norris Taylor was the pastor at the time and had been very instrumental in the change that took place in Johnny´s life. Brother Taylor still tells the family today that he uses Brother John as an example in his sermons everywhere he goes.
The next seven years were the happiest years of John´s life, both to him and to his family. He witnessed more about the love of Jesus during those seven years than most people do during a lifetime. He went home to be with the Lord on May 23, 1976 when he was 87 years old.
Children of John and Gwendolyn:
- Mable Blakley Futch
- Doris Blakley (Gragson) Heagy
- Johnnie Ann Blakley White
Spur (Special) - Services for John Harrison Blakely, 87, of Spur, will be at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in the First Baptist Church here with the Rev. Norris Taylor, pastor, officiating.
Burial will follow in Dickens Cemetery in Dickens under direction of Campbell Funeral Home of Spur.
Blakeley died at 9:15 a.m. Sunday in Lubbock Methodist Hopsital after an extended illness.
A Callahan County native, he moved to Dickens County in 1889. He married Gwendolyn Parker July 25, 1923, in Dickens. He was a farmer and rancher, a member of the First Baptist Church and a Mason.
Survivors include his wife, three daughters, Mrs. Raymond Futch of 2307 31st St. Lubbock, Mrs. Carl Gregson of 5412 7th St., Lubbock, and Mrs. Dale White of 5405 8th Place, Lubbock; six sisters, Mrs. Homer Johnston and Mrs. Vance Hughes, both of Stafford, Calif., Mrs. Jim Nowland of Lubbock, Mrs. Bee Nichols of Arlington, Mrs. Mann Clark of Portales, N.M., and Mrs. Altha Hall of Hughston, Calif.; eight grandchildren; and four great grandchildren.
©Lubbock Avalanche Journal, May 23, 1976
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