Carol Eilene Blackburn (nÃ©e Finley), 85, passed away on Tuesday, November 30, 2021 in St. Luke’s Magic Valley.
Born in Petaluma, California on December 15, 1935, to Richard Finley and Zelma (George) Finley, Carol was the first of four children, followed by Bernice (Bernie), Ruth and George.
Carol grew up in Northern California, including the communities of Calistoga, Point Reyes Station, Hastings, and Rodeo. She attended Humboldt University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Management in 1959, one of the first women to graduate from the program.
After graduation Carol worked on various government wildlife studies and was also an avid outdoorsman, traveling to Austria on mountaineering, hiking and climbing trips with the Sierra Club and working with the Student. Conservation Association in Teton National Park. Here she met Frederick Arlin Blackburn, a Washington, DC native, a former Navy cartographer and fellow environmentalist, whom she married in 1967 in Moose, Wyoming. Two children followed, William (1969) and Anne (1972).
Carol and Fred spent the first few years of their marriage as snowbirds traveling between the Southwest in the winter and the Jackson Hole, Wyoming area in the summer. During this time, Fred worked as a park warden at Teton National Park, and they resided in a two-room log cabin at Bar BC Ranch, a historic ranch that was vested in the park when it was founded in 1929. During their time in Jackson Hole, Carol and Fred became deeply connected with Mardy and Olaus Murie, founders of the Wilderness Society, and the conservation community that surrounded them, a belief that Carol carried on for the rest of her life.
The growing children eventually ended the life of the snowbirds, and the family moved to Hailey, Idaho in 1979. Raising two children certainly caught her attention, but she also began her gardening career. , found time to quilt, weave and teach. herself a natural vegetable dye and continued to explore the valley and its surroundings with her family and friends.
An exceptional master gardener, Carol was in demand for her horticultural wisdom in the planning and maintenance of many types of high altitude gardens. She has gained an enviable reputation as a specialist in native plants, rare plants and invasive species; conduct numerous botanical studies for The Nature Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management, Wood River Land Trust and other federal and private entities. She also served for many years on the local watershed advisory group.
Carol has been a horticultural specialist for the Sawtooth Botanical Garden for over a decade, creating Carol’s wildflower garden from seeds she collected on hikes and acting as a key advisor to the site committee. .
She also helped found the Wood River Chapter of the Idaho Native Plant Society in the late 1980s, leading numerous field trips and holding many positions until her retirement.
In 1995, Carol received a second bachelor’s degree in landscape horticulture from the University of Idaho at the age of 60, and used it in all of her projects, large and small, for the rest of her life. .
Her friends and family remember her as a fiercely independent thinker, passionate about the outdoors, voracious reader and researcher, textile artist and collector, and passionate advocate and guide. tourist of the land she knew and loved so well.
She was a generous friend to many, laying down a particularly tasty slice of freshly baked cake, a potted plant, or an article she had just read, providing a safe haven for many stray cats and migrating songbirds, and was famous for it. handwritten notes to friends near and far.
She is survived by her son Will (Fulda, Germany) and his wife Verena; his daughter, Anne (Portland, Oregon); his sister, Bernie (La Pine, Oregon); one grandson, Kevin Blackburn (Germany); as well as a large and loving collection of Finley cousins.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Upper Big Wood River Grange in Hailey on Saturday, December 11 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
In lieu of gifts or flowers, please consider a gift of support to the Wood River Chapter of the Idaho Native Plants Society in his memory.