Mark N. Blankenship

Mark N. Blankenship
Mark N. Blankenship

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.









31 Replies to “Mark N. Blankenship”

  1. For Rhondelle and Family, here is a poem:

    “On Mark’s 64th birthday
    It’s easy to imagine a newly-winged humming bird
    Rare and iridescent
    Zigzagging through an abundant garden
    Always observing, always admiring
    Forever whispering, “You are wonderful”

  2. I just learned of Mark’s passing today when I went to Llano to talk to someone about a vase for my father, who died on July 13 of this year.

    Rhondelle and family, I cannot express deeply enough what a wonderful man Mark was. He didn’t even know me or my family, but he kindly offered to find a refurbished vase for my mother’s grave just this past year. (Mom died in 2013).

    I still have Mark’s email from November 11, 2020 and was going to write to him to thank him again for his generosity before I heard the news about his passing.

    My husband and I are in shock that a man so good, so kind, so talented and so loving had to leave this world at such a young age.

    We had no idea of all of his accomplishments. He truly was a Renaissance man!! How wonderful it would have been to talk to him about some of his passions: God, his family, his newly-found interests like wood-working, upholstery, cooking, etc. etc.

    Please know that we are thinking of you at this 8-month mark of his passing. I have a feeling that Mark and my father, Dr. John Alpar, would have a lot to talk about in Heaven. Blessings to all of you!

  3. Rhondelle, you and your family have my heartfelt sympathy. I am so sad that I did not get to participate in the gathering at your house. Just meeting Mark one time at your house I could tell he was a awesome person. My prayers and love go out to you and your family.

  4. My thoughts and prayers are with you and I know God will provide you the comfort and peace you will need as you mourn the loss of such a precious soul. Mr. Blankenship was always so kind to me and my family as we laid my boys to rest. All were blessed who had the pleasure to know him. His sincere kindness will always be remembered and he will be missed dearly.

  5. Dearest Rhondelle,

    My heart goes out to you and your family. I pray that God will bring you peace now and in the coming days. I know you hold great comfort in knowing that you definitely will see Mark again. Thank you Lord. Much love and many prayers are sent your way. Your angel.

  6. Rhondelle
    Julie and I wish to express our deepest condolences. Mark was a fine man well committed and sincere. He truly was a 110% guy and we know he will be greatly missed. Our hearts go out to you.

  7. My deepest condolences. I am at such a loss for words. He was such an angel to meet. I will always remember how I surprised him for his birthday with a jar full of candy.

  8. Rhondelle, I am so sorry! Mark was such a good man and a good friend. He was an incredible boss, pouring his heart into his employees so unselfishly. He will always be remembered for his laugh and his positive outlook.

  9. My heart aches for those left behind. You were an amazing man and the world shines less brightly without you in it. Forever in my heart and memories. You shall be dearly missed.

  10. Oh, Rhondelle, I’m so sorry to hear of Mark’s passing, but we know you will meet again. My heart goes out to you and the kids and grandkids. Super {{{{{hugs}}}}}
    Love you bunches, Luan.

  11. Dear Rhondelle, Clark, Ashley, Kylie, Victoria, and Christianna. My heart is broken with Mark’s passing. I was so blessed to have not only worked with him in Colorado and Reno, but considered him a great friend. Mark was a true professional in the death care industry, and an inspiration for so many of us. I will miss our many golf rounds, wonderful meals at the house, and Mark’s ability to make me laugh. Thanks for the incredible memories.
    Rest in Peace my friend.

  12. From the first time we met face to face on the parched ground of Llano cemetery leftover from the epic drought of 2011, it was evident that Mark was professional, friendly, kind, funny, and loved the Llano Estacado and the Great Plains. That day he saw a potential in Llano Cemetery that was born of history, a caring community and his professional ability to “Honor Panhandle Families, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”. I will miss you dearly, Amigo. Jack

  13. I am Mark’s cousin, his Dad, Norman & my Mother, Mary Blankenship Brokaw were brother & sister. It has been many years since we met but I have kept in touch with Marilyn Blankenship Fairbairn. She keeps me up to date on her family.
    I am very sorry to hear of Mark’s passing. I talked to him on the phone briefly earlier this year concerning his Mom, Verna.
    My sincere sympathy to Rondelle & family.

    Barbara Brokaw Simmons

  14. Rhondelle,

    I am so sorry for your loss. Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. May God surround you with His peace in the days ahead. Love always,

  15. May God’s peace be with the entire Blankenship family. Knowing Mark was a true blessing. Be sure that Marks faith has brought him through the gates of heaven and to eternal life and happiness.

  16. I really enjoyed working with/for Mark many years ago. It was his first year at our location as GM and my first year to join the company. I found him to be fair, kind-hearted and a pleasure to work alongside. He had a passion for caring for families and made sure his staff served them compassionately. It was very apparent that he had a love for funeral service. It was also very evident his love for his family. Rhondelle you could see his love for you when you walked into the room. His eyes lit up and a huge smile would form. You all possessed a strong love and it showed. My heart goes out to you!

  17. While I don’t believe I ever had the honor of meeting Mark, this obituary confirms the impressions I have of him and of you, Rhondelle. My love to you and all the family… Loss is hard; losing someone this wonderful is harder; and doing so at this time is even harder.

  18. The class of Hays High 1974 send our deepest sympathy on the your loss. We are very saddened by his death.

  19. My deepest sympathy to the Blankenship family. I enjoyed spending time with Mark and Rhondelle. Two of my fun Thanksgiving memories consist of being with Mark and Rhondelle and another time with their daughter Victoria.
    I will think of you all throughout the holiday season. My prayers and love are with you.

  20. I was on the Llano search committee to find a new executive director. The moment I met Mark Blankenship I knew he possessed the intelligence, expertise and compassion to be a perfect fit for Amarillo. Since then, I have become close friends with Rhondelle and Mark. I cherish that friendship and will miss Mark very much. My deepest sympathy to the family.

  21. What a huge earthly loss for all whom Mark leaves behind!
    If you’ve attended any functions where Mark and Rhondelle were present, you witnessed how they loved each other. At an Armed Services Banquet, after they both did their volunteer work and the program began, I was sitting behind them. Rhondelle kicked off her heels and rested her legs on Mark’s lap; he rubbed her neck and she rested her head on his mighty shoulders. This was just a moment between the two of them; and just a thumbnail of their devotion to each other and in service of others.
    Rhondelle is a mighty prayer warrior; now it’s our turn even more for her and their children: Clark, Ashley, Kylie, Victoria, and Christianna. Please feel the loving appreciation of all Mark did serving families and his passion for our Veterans.
    with love, dj

  22. Mark, you are the greatest boss I have ever worked for. You always had a great smile even after I lost Buddy. Thank you for your service at Llano. You will never be forgotten. Fly high Sir. Til again.

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