Dr. Robert F. "Dr. Bob" Blackburn, 72, of Inverness, Fla., died Friday, May 3, 2013, under hospice care in Inverness, Fla. Dr. Bob was born and raised in Parkersburg, W.Va., and graduated from Parkersburg High School in 1958. He was inspired to develop his natural talent in music by the positive upbringing and teaching of his father, The Rev. Dr. Harry William Blackburn; his mother, Eva Mae Garrison Blackburn; and older sister Janie McFarland. During his high school years, his high-profile leadership in Mrs. Esther Cunningham's A Cappella Choir and his first-chair trombone position earned in Mr. Frank Schroeder's Big Red Band attested to his innate musical abilities. He also attended summer camps at the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J, where he discovered his stentorian tenor voice and pursued serious vocal training. Dr. Blackburn graduated from Asbury University in Wilmore, Ky., and fulfilled his call to the ministry by graduating from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. Shortly thereafter, he received his first pastoral appointment at Central Avenue United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Ind. Following that ministry, he was transferred to the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church, where he pastored in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Miami, Jacksonville and finally in Inverness, where he oversaw the construction of the First United Methodist Church campus. During his appointment in Jacksonville, the honorary doctorate of divinity was conferred by Joe Andrews and the Southeastern Evangelistic Groups. After retiring from the pulpit, Dr. Bob pursued his second passion, ministry of music, on a full-time basis. He ministered domestically and internationally, including a 10-day tour in England. He has several published musical works and is well remembered for his large-scale theatrical and well-choreographed productions. Dr. Blackburn was preceded in death by his parents and his older brothers, Dr. Howard R. Blackburn and Dr. David Stuart Blackburn.
His surviving family include former wife Ann Nuckolls Blackburn of Dayton, Tenn.; their children, Ken Blackburn of Nashville, Tenn., Kam Reagan of Inverness, Fla., Robin Williams of Cleveland, Tenn., and Bobbi Bogle of Nashville, Tenn. Close surviving family relatives are sister Janie McFarland of Waco, Texas; sister-in-law Ruth Ann Blackburn of Indianapolis, Ind.; nephew/brother Roger D. Blackburn of St. Peters, Mo., nephew Robert McFarland of Sicklerville, N.J., niece Beth Blackburn Boles of Zionsville, Ind., nephew John Blackburn of Noblesville, Ind., nephew David Allen of Roswell, Ga., nephew Britten Stone Blackburn of Hoover, Ala., and nephew Phillip Blackburn of Tokyo, Japan.
His grandchildren are Christopher Todd Bender of Inverness, Fla., Jeffrey Wayne Bender of Orlando, Fla., and Nathaniel Lane Williams of Cleveland, Tenn.
A funeral tribute to Dr. Bob will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 7, 2013, at Inverness Church of God. The burial will be private in Oak Ridge Cemetery. The family will receive friends in visitation at the church from 10 a.m. until the hour of service. The family requests memorial donations in Dr. Bob's memory to Hospice of Citrus County, P.O. Box 641270, Beverly Hills, FL 34464 in lieu of flowers. Chas. E. Davis Funeral Home with Crematory is in charge of arrangements.