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Obituary for Gerald Alan Blankenship

Gerald Blankenship died peacefully in his home on May 16th, 2017, following a terrible battle with cancer.
He is survived by his wife of 40 years Maria Blankenship; his son, Jerome Blankenship of McMinnville; his daughter Miranda Blankenship of Carlton; and grandchildren Aurora Blankenship, Arthur Blankenship, and Freedom Blankenship.
Gerald was born I Portland, OR but was a long time resident of Carlton, and was known throughout Oregon for his work as a sign maker. He started his career in graphic art in the 70’s working for Payless Drug Stores. He quickly became an asset to the company and helped open new stores in both Oregon and Washington.
In the late seventies, he and his future wife Maria Fox moved to the Spokane area. There he worked for the Catholic Charities in outreach for seniors. Gerald and Maria were married in 1977 and had children shortly thereafter.
Gerald built a cabin in the woods 35 miles north of Spokane. The Blankenships lived off the grid for 9 years. Gerald often bartered with local businesses with his sign work.
The family settled in Yamhill County in 1984. In 1988 Gerald began an apprenticeship with master carver and sign maker Joe Valasek. By 1991, Gerald established his business, Northwood Signs in Carlton. There he produced carved wood signs by hand in the old world style.
His work can be seen as far as Idaho and all through Oregon. Some notable signs he and his associates produced are the 27 City of McMinnville signs, City of Newport Welcome signs, mural work in Carlton and numerous signs for wineries throughout Yamhill County. His work is an integral part of the image of Yamhill County.
Gerald was an artist, poet, musician and family man who felt a strong spiritual connection to his Cherokee roots. He was a loyal, accepting friend, and had a joy for life. He will be missed by many.


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