July 15, 1946 ~ February 4, 2024 (age 77) 77 Years Old


Mary Beth Blackburn

July 15, 1946 – February 4, 2024


Mary Beth Blackburn of Go Ye Village graduated from this earthly life on February 4, 2024 and entered into her heavenly reward.  Mary Beth was born on July 15, 1946 in Jackson MN to Herbert Archie Gemmill and Mabel Arletta Gemmill, (nee Webster). Twelve years later, the family moved to Estherville IA where Archie hand-crafted ornamental iron works such as custom porch railings and spiral staircases.  As a teenager, Mary Beth assisted her father in the shop, cutting, cleaning, and painting the various pieces of projects under construction.   

From a very early age, music was an essential part of MaryBeth’s life.  As a little child, she would lie in bed and listen to her older sisters sing gospel songs with their father.  MaryBeth’s fervent desire was to be old enough to sing such songs with her Daddy.  As a young adult, she found her niche on the organ bench, ending up being the church organist or assistant organist for churches in Estherville IA, Iowa City IA, and Springfield IL.

On September 1, 1961, Mary Beth met Jim. His family was returning to their home near Jeffers MN from Chicago where Jim’s brother George had married his wife, Nancy.  Since Mary Beth’s pastor had been a Seminary classmate with Jim’s father, the family stopped for a short visit.  Mary Beth’s pastor suggested that Jim and his sister Beth accompany the church youth for an end of summer party at the local amusement park.  This began their lifetime together.  Dating primarily occurred at the monthly Baptist skate-nights when the area Baptist churches rented the localskating rink.  Following graduation from High School, Mary Beth enrolled at Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, (aka little Bob Jones) in Owatonna MN.  

On December 31, 1965, Jim and Mary Beth became engaged.  They were married on June 9, 1967 in EsthervilleIA. The young couple moved immediately to Iowa City, IA where Jim was enrolled in summer school at the University of Iowa.  From early in her married life, Mary Beth expressed a desire to complete several goals.  She wanted to be a mother; she wanted to finish her college degree; and she wanted to be of service to others.  She obviously completed all of these goals; having three children, graduating from the Liberty University School of Lifelong Learning with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and serving family, friends, and acquaintances throughout her earthly life.  

In October 1968, the family moved to Springfield IL where Jim took a position with the IL Department of Public Health.  Mary Beth soon found herself involved with the various ministries of Cherry Hills Baptist Church.  One major concern of hers was that although the children were being taught many Bible stories, there were no materials thatlinked these stories into a coherent message.  Mary Beth decided to develop a junior church curriculum that would link these stories.  This curriculum developed into three major modules; Bible Survey (both Old Testament and New Testament), Basic Bible Doctrine and the Tabernacle.  An illustrative example of the visuals developed for the Bible Survey was a timeline that stretched around the room ranging from eternity past to eternity future. The various Bible characters were then hung on the timeline at the appropriate chronological location illustrating the continuum of the Biblical story.  Mary Beth was also involved with the church Benevolence Committee, the Stephen’s Ministry and Vacation Bible School.

Mary Beth’s first major project in the paper crafting arena was a scrapbook that was to cover the first forty years of hermarriage.  Following this project, Mary Beth becameintrigued with making specialty celebration cards.  When she moved to Go Ye Village in 2015, she began recognizing resident’s birthdays and anniversaries, plus Christmas with her specialty cards.  In 2017, she made in excess of 600 cards for various occasions.  For a short time, she also made and donated cards to the Village store for sale.  She has greatly enjoyed sharing her love for this craft artistry with other residents through the Thursday afternoon Card class. When Mary Beth entered hospice and notified one of her suppliers, the supplier sympathized and indicated that it was her understanding that there are unlimited craft supplies in heaven and to make it even better, they are all free.  

Mary Beth was predeceased by her parents, her sisters Avis (Olsen), Neola (Bass), and Nadine (Schumacher) and her brother Gordon Gemmill.  She is survived by her husband, Jim, of 56 years, her brother (James) Melvin Gemmill of Billings MT, her three children; Christopher, Heather, and Peter plus six grandchildren.

On that Good Friday, when Jesus defeated death, among his last recorded words were “It is finished.”  This was not the groanings of a dying man.  It was the full-throated victorycry of the Roman Legions.  Tetelestai – It is Completed.  The battle is over, and we have won.  Imagine being Roman soldiers guarding this crucifixion and hearing their own victory battle cry come rolling from the lips of the man dying on a cross.

To a lesser degree, Mary Beth has also uttered her own victory cry.  Her life on earth is completed.  No more war.  No more pain.  No more sickness, medications, physical and/or mental limitations.  

In John 14:2, Jesus stated “In my Father’s house are many mansions . . . I go to prepare a place for you.”  Mary Beth’s house is ready and she has moved in.

See You at the House


A Celebration of Life Service will be held at the Go Ye Village Chapel

on March 9th at 2:00pm.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of MARY ELIZABETH (GEMMILL) BLACKBURN, please visit our floral store.

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Celebration of Life
March 9, 2024

2:00 PM
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