Humphrey Marshall Blackburn -- an artist, entrepreneur and environmental pioneer -- passed away from brain cancer on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 at his home in Custer, Washington. He was 68 years old. Humphrey was born in Denver, Colorado to Phoebe and Elmore Blackburn. He moved to Berkeley, Calif. when he was five and grew up in the Berkeley Hills. He was a boy scout and loved to spend time in the Sierra Nevadas, camping. He married Gail Meneley in 1970 and moved to Humboldt County, Calif. where they raised three children. He and Gail divorced in 1990, and Humphrey married Xan in 2003. He and Xan moved to Custer where they lived until he died at home. Humphrey graduated from Humboldt State University with a bachelor's degree in art in the early 1970s and pursued a masters in environmental engineering in the late '80s. Art and engineering played important roles in his life. He spent his adult life painting, drawing and sculpting and had several art shows in the '70s and '80s. He also spent a brief yet satisfying time teaching art to young adults in juvenile hall in Eureka, Calif. His master's degree led to a business providing residential and industrial slow-sand filters, a sustainable, low-tech water filtration technology. This work brought him all over the world, and he enjoyed traveling and working on almost every continent. Humphrey was a loving, creative, and kind man with a great sense of humor and a love of martial arts. He spent many years studying karate and taught tai chi in Gualala, Calif. and in Bellingham. Humphrey is preceded in death by his mother, father and his brother Tim. He is survived by his loving wife, Xan; daughter Vanessa Blackburn and son-in-law Greg Seeligson; son Peter Blackburn and daughter-in-law Anjali Englund; and daughter Sarah Nibarger and son-in-law Kohl Nibarger. He is also survived by five grandchildren: Finnegan, Alexis, Henry, Maximus and Kaylee. An open-house celebration of his life will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday March 12 at the Roeder Home, 2600 Sunset Drive, Bellingham, Wash.
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Published in Bellingham Herald on Mar. 6, 2016