Cover photo for Gilmer Warren Blackburn's Obituary
Gilmer Warren Blackburn Profile Photo

Gilmer Warren Blackburn

October 14, 1939 — February 10, 2024


Gilmer Warren Blackburn

Gilmer Warren Blackburn

October 14, 1939 February 10, 2024

Our beloved husband, father, grandfather, churchman, avid reader, scholar, educator, leader, administrator, writer, and community volunteer has gone before us after a courageous battle with bile duct cancer.

Gilmer was born the sixth child of Rufus and Hettie Calloway Blackburn on a horse farm outside Mount Airy, North Carolina. He is preceded in death by parents, sisters Ruby Lambert, Marilyn Ledford, and brothers Eugene, Edward, and Donald. Gil leaves behind his wife of more than sixty years, Martha Burke Blackburn; daughter Julie, and son Stuart, Grandchildren Hannah, Abigail, and Ethan.

An avid reader since Childhood, Gilmer attended Mount Airy public schools and was co-captain of the Granite Bears football team in high school. He attended Gardner-Webb Junior College where he played football and served in student government, followed by Wake Forest University where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in European History.

Following in the family tradition of military service, Gilmer served in the U.S. Navy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. After briefly teaching high school he returned to graduate school at Wake Forest earning a master’s degree, and then to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for his Ph.D. in Higher Education.

Gil began his life’s work at his alma mater, Gardner Webb University in 1968 as a professor of history. He held many positions at GWU including Director of Adult Learning (GOAL), Director of Graduate Studies, and Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs. He and Martha moved to Wise, Virginia, in 2004 where he continued his professional career as Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise where he retired in 2010. At both universities he worked with students to develop “Honor Codes”, and established ROTC programs.

During his Professional career he earned many honors including “Teacher of the Year”, ”Alumnus of the Year”, Fulbright Scholar to Germany, Certificate of commendation for upholding academic integrity at Gardner Webb University from the American Association of University Professors. His graduate research into Nazi text books used in German schools resulted in his book, Education in the Third Reich (Suny Press).

Boy Scouts played a vital role in his youth. Gilmer served many years as Scout Master and commissioner. He was awarded “Scout Master of Merit” by the National Eagle Scout Association.

Gil served as deacon for over forty years at Boiling Springs and Wise Baptist Churches; and was a member of Rotary and Kiwanis service clubs.

His legacy for a love of learning and his integrity will live on in the lives of thousands of students and friends.

The family will receive friends beginning at eleven o’clock on Saturday, February 17, 2024, followed by a memorial service at noon at Wise Baptist Church, Spring Street, Wise, Va. 24293.

Deacons will serve as pallbearers. Burial will be at Skyline Memorial Garden, Old Buck Shoals Rd., Mount Airy, NC 27030 at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 18, 2024.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Wise Baptist Church, P.O. Box 777, Wise, Va. 24293 or to charity of donor’s choice.

Moody Funeral Services, 406 West Pine Street, P.O. Box 1288 Mount Airy, NC 27030 336-786-2165 is serving the family of Gilmer Warren Blackburn.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gilmer Warren Blackburn, please visit our flower store.

Past Services


Saturday, February 17, 2024

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Service

Saturday, February 17, 2024

12:00 - 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Sunday, February 18, 2024

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

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