Mark Nolan Blankenship, 64, gained his wings and joined our Savior on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 at 6:03 pm.
Visitation will be from 5:00 – 6:30 pm Monday, November 23, at Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors, 2800 Paramount Boulevard. Funeral services will be at 10:00 am Tuesday, November 24, at Hillside Christian Church, 6100 S. Soncy Rd. Entombment will be at Llano Cemetery in the Garden of Devotion adjacent to the mausoleum. The family will receive guests at the family home, 22 Hogan Drive, at 1:00 pm.
Mark and his wife Rhondelle moved to Amarillo in 2012, when the board of directors of Llano Cemetery hired Mark as executive director. Over the course of eight years, Mark’s leadership and vision brought improvements, growth and stability to Amarillo’s oldest cemetery and the first cemetery in Texas to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The second son of Verna and James Blankenship, Mark was born February 24, 1956, in Holdrege, Nebraska, but after moving to Hays, Kansas at age 2, he forever claimed the Sunflower State as his home state.
Mark was blessed with a wide range of abilities and talents, which became apparent at a young age and served him throughout his life. In high school he was a competitive tennis player, as well as a lead in the school’s musicals. His musical ability was such that following graduation from Hays High School in 1974, he attended Kansas State University on a vocal scholarship, and graduated in 1978.
Never one to shirk from hard work or responsibility, Mark paid his way through college as part of a wheat harvest crew, working by day in fields from Texas to Montana and sleeping in an old school bus at night.
Mark considered himself very fortunate to have found his life’s calling at the age of 16, when he began working in a funeral home in Hays. Following graduation from Dallas Institute of Mortuary Science, he returned to Kansas, where he owned a funeral home and monument company for many years.
Prior to accepting his position with Llano Cemetery, he worked for Service Corporation International, NorthStar Memorial Group and Carriage Services, serving in many regional and senior management positions throughout the United States.
Mark and Rhondelle’s decision to move to Amarillo was based on Mark’s desire to escape the corporate world and return to what they both felt was their calling – serving families and being part of a community. This calling was fulfilled for both of them at the non-profit Llano Cemetery.
In Amarillo, Mark was a member of the Rotary Club of Amarillo. He and Rhondelle were committed members of Hillside Christian Church. They built a strong circle of friends – from Mark’s golfing buddies to friends they made as they became part of the fabric of Amarillo.
Whatever Mark did, he did it to the fullest. Having lived in Colorado, cheering for the Dallas Cowboys did not come naturally to him. But when Mark moved to Amarillo, he became a Texan. He bought a hat, drove a pickup truck, wore cowboy boots and cheered for the Cowboys, the Texans and the Rangers.
Mark was a sportsman. An avid golfer and a huge fan of Arnold Palmer, he pursued his passion to the extent his most recent home was on a golf course. He loved baseball and by chance met Mickey Mantle. Not only did Mark meet him – he became friends with the baseball legend and his son and maintained the friendship for years.
As a husband, Mark was focused on Rhondelle. He adored her and she adored him. He was her strength and her joy. He was also her never-ending source of encouragement. Together they worked at building a strong marriage and a happy blended family. They shared a love of their children and grandchildren, good food and wine and two trips a year to their special place – Isla Mujeres.
As a father, Mark was enthusiastic and encouraging. When his children were growing up, he shared a host of sports with them. Happy memories include cheering on the Kansas City Royals, taking the train to Chicago to see the Cubs play, snow skiing in Breckenridge and water skiing at Grand Lake in Oklahoma. The door to the Blankenship home was always open – for family gatherings, church groups and fun with friends.
When Mark and Rhondelle married, Mark became a loving, supportive presence in the lives of her daughters and carried them in his heart.
Mark liked to learn and to take on new challenges. He took up woodworking and made cornhole boards for his family. He upholstered furniture. He took up watercolor painting. He became an accomplished chef and an appreciator of wine.
According to his children: “He never did anything halfway.” “He always gave 110 per cent.” They describe him as “artistic,” “articulate,” “a beautiful wordsmith” and “a Renaissance man.”
Blessed with a genuine interest in and concern for others, he desired to be “the perfect fit” when he helped families in their time of loss.
Mark is survived by his heartbroken but deeply grateful family: wife Rhondelle, son Clark Edward Blankenship and wife Kim, daughter Ashley Dawn Bateman and husband Bryan, daughter Kylie Lane Eskew and husband Justin, daughter by love Victoria Arielle Jennings and husband Lee, daughter by love Christianna Sevilla Snyder and husband Jerome; grandchildren Chase Nolan Blankenship, Emma Grace Blankenship, Anders Vaughn Bateman, Elianna Kapri Snyder, Amara Mae Snyder and Braylon Allan Snyder; brother Bob Blankenship and wife Gretchen.
Having seen families struggle with funeral plans, Mark gave his family the gift of specific instructions pertaining to every detail of his funeral. He also asked that in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts be made to Hillside Christian Church, 6100 Soncy Rd. Amarillo, TX 79119.