Obituary: Colleen Rose Blankenship

blankenship obit.jpg
Posted at 4:27 PM, Feb 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-08 18:27:05-05

Colleen Rose Blankenship, 93, passed away on January 14, 2024, in Billings, MT. She was born in Milwaukee, WI, on February 3, 1930. Shortly after her birth, she and her family moved back to Montana, where they were from.

Colleen grew up in Gallatin Gateway, Montana, with her parents, Otto and Helga Pinkerton, her brothers, Kenneth and Dan, and her sister, Carol. Living the small-town life is where Colleen learned to love hard work and to pull herself up by her bootstraps. Colleen loved the rural lifestyle and was known for being very feisty, despite being only 5'1".

Education was a primary value for Colleen, and she graduated from Montana State University in Bozeman with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. She followed that path with additional college credits between 1954-64. To no one's surprise, she returned to college at the ripe old age of 72 to get her Special Education Degree from MSU-Billings. Collectively, Colleen has had over 50 years of teaching experience in her lifetime. She loved her students and loved her profession.

Colleen met a very handsome lad named Dick Blankenship, and they married in 1953. Life blessed Dick and Colleen with five children, Collette, Hal, Wendy, Cathy (Katie), and Wade. Having five children and working as a full-time educator, often with additional second jobs, led to a busy life over the next 30 years.

Colleen also spent many years working at the Vet Research Lab at MSU, in the technology field, the cattle industry, and at one time, as a baker at a grocery store starting at 3:00 in the morning before going on her teaching job for the day.

Colleen was fiercely independent, never complained, and did her life as a do-er. Everyone knew that Colleen would do it if it had to be done! She never asked for anything from anyone and didn't expect a thing from the world that she didn't work herself to earn. Her strong sense of personal accountability and resiliency were both astounding.

Colleen loved her grandchildren and lived in a home filled with family photographs. First came her precious Jeramie, followed by her beloved Jenelle, Adam, Libby, Nick, Leata, James, and Keeli.

The last ten years of Colleen's life were simply spectacular. She moved to West Park Senior Community in Billings, where she danced with abandon, acted in plays, sang, created art, and had a life full of fun and leisure. She was surrounded by her daughter (whom she dubbed "Always Wendy") and her entire Billings family during those years. She was involved in every birthday, holiday, crafting event, dance party with grand-babies, and days full of general orneriness and tom-foolery.

Colleen is survived by her loving children, Collette, Hal, Wendy, and Cathy (Katie); her three sons-in-laws, Mike, Robert, and Dan (whom she held in the highest regard); eight grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. All will greatly miss her.

Funeral services will be held in Bozeman, MT, at Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service on February 3rd at 2:00 pm, followed by a small reception.