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Oral Blackmon passes away, best remembered for community involvement

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John Oral Blackmon of Summerfield, Florida passed away on January 22, 2024. Oral was a lifetime Marion County resident born on December 12, 1943 in Ocala, Florida. He served in the United States Army reserves during the Vietnam era. At the age of 16 he landed a position at Monroe & Chambliss Bank as a teller in the walk-up window. He then decided to make banking a career and became a graduate of the Florida School of Banking. With a solid banking foundation and expertise gained during his career that spanned over 30 years he began helping others as a Manager and Vice President in the Credit Counseling industry.

Oral was an active member of the First Baptist Church of Belleview for over 59 years. He served as a deacon 50 of those years. He also served as a Sunday School Director overseeing many programs during his time and remained active in the men’s ministry.

His love of sports inspired him and others to work with the youth in the community. He was instrumental in the planning and development of the Belleview Sports Complex. He coached softball, baseball, and served as a referee and umpire. When he wasn’t coaching or at Church, he could be found in his recliner watching the Gators play ball.

Oral is survived by his wife; Peggy DeBruhl Blackmon; sons Jon and David; grandchildren Jonathan, Elizabeth and Emily. He joins his parents Doyle John, Naomi Stoops Blackmon and brother Harold in Heaven.

Visitation was held at the First Baptist Church of Belleview on Saturday, January 27th. Burial was at Crum Cemetery. Donations can be made to the Damon Walker Scholarship Fund at First Baptist Church of Belleview or Cornerstone Hospice.

In a 2008 article inside of the Voice of South Marion Founder’s Day Review, author Peek Hames produced a story on Oral’s incredible commitment to the community. Here is that article:

Oral Blackmon, Committed To Community Involvement

Being involved in the community just came natural for Oral Blackmon. He has been involved over forty years with the youth, whether on the baseball fields or in church activities, where he has been a deacon for over 35 years. Over the years he has served as organizer, coach mentor and sometimes just as a spectator watching the kids play. He also found the time to referee high school baseball, football and basketball games. It was back in 1961, when only four little league teams were playing baseball at old Cherokee Park, that Oral began coaching with his friend, Lewis McLean. The teams then were regional with Belleview, Pedro, Oklawaha-Weirsdale participating. “Has it been that long ago?” Oral asked as he talked of those early days at Cherokee Park and remembered some of the first coaches in Little League. They were Lewis McLean, Jimmy Kirkland, Willard Goolsby, Carl Perry, Dean Hames, Casey Scroggie, Mealy Reed and Vandal Wilson.

The area and participants grew and soon the leagues needed a more spacious place to play. Roy Abshier was the mayor of Belleview then and he had been fielding some complaints from the neighbors near the park about the constant noise and extended play. He approached Lewis McLean about building a new recreation area at the old dump site. They got things rolling and Oral says that was one of the highlights of the community, when not only Belleview, but all of South Marion County came together and got three fields built. It was begun at the end of spring and was completed before play began the following year. The list of people that volunteered their time and services to get the complex completed was a long one, but a few were Roy Abshier, Lewis McLean, Bill Giles, Jim Rainey, Sonny Evans, Jack Banning, John Springstead, Steve Scroggie, Casey Scroggie, Rick Tuman, J.L. Collum, Jennifer Taylor, Billie Jean Oxendine, Chick Adams, Bill McLain, Larry and Q. T. Quartararo, and Dave Wilson.

To provide the initial funds for the project several fund raising projects were held; ten of those involved in the project, with the help of Vince Razzano, President of the Bank of Belleview, signed a note for the major part; and the city secured a grant to match a portion of the loan. The initial cost of the project was around $35,000. Most of the labor was from large group volunteers. The Belleview Recreation Complex has grown considerably since those early days of three fields. Recently some of the early pioneers of the project were honored with one field being named for Lewis McLean, and two dugouts named for Oral Blackmon and Casey Scroggie.

What does he do when not being involved with the youth of the community and church activities? He is a counselor for Consumer Credit Counseling Services. Oral was a member of the first graduating class that attended all grades at the old Lake Weir High School. After graduating in 1961 he trained with his dad, who was the agent in Summerfield for Seaboard Railroad. Because of an eye condition he had to give up that field, and having an interest in bookkeeping, he applied for a job at old M&C Bank in Ocala, and by the time he got back to Belleview, the bank had called and offered him a job. He began as an errand boy, then in bookkeeping and soon a teller. He later was promoted to Vice President. M&C became Barnett Bank in 1991 and began consolidation of several of it’s offices, and Oral was offered a position in a bank in the Orlando area. Not wanting a change in community he came to SouthTrust Bank in Belleview where he remained for three years before joining Consumer Credit Counseling. Oral says, “I have enjoyed the time spent working in the church and community; it is a rewarding feeling to think you may have made a positive feeling in someone’s life”.

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