Donald Vincent Blach was born January 12, 1930 and departed this life on September 6, 2018 at the age of 88 years. Donald was born to Herman and Ella (Burns) Blach and grew up on the family farm 12 miles north of Yuma, CO. Donald had 7 siblings: Sherman, Bethine, Harold, Leonard, Millard, Arlene, and Colleen.
Beginning with Donald’s grandparents, Wenzel and Catherine Blach, the family was instrumental in the development of the Catholic Church in Yuma.
Growing up on the homestead north of Yuma, there were 5 boys, 5 shovels, and 5 forks. They had 2 teams of work horses and would haul corn, bundle straw, milk cows, and grind corn for the cows. Herman would resole all the kids and hired man’s shoes. The shoes were supposed to last for a year. He nailed them on but they didn’t stay on very well. Ella would patch their clothes and after the 3rd patch she would throw them away.
Donald went to the 2-room Blach School House, District 35, about 4 miles from his house. Sherman drove his younger siblings to the school in a 1935 Chevy 4-door. When it snowed too much for car travel, all 4 siblings would ride a single horse. Their mother, Ella, made their lunch, and being shy, Donald would eat next to Sherman. One day, Donald traded Sherman’s cake for some pickles, much to Sherman’s disliking.
He was the second oldest boy and his childhood was typical of a farm kid growing up in the 30’s and 40’s working from daylight to dark and this was the foundation of his life-long hard-working manner. After the 8th grade, Donald stayed out of school for a couple years, working on the farm and graduated from Yuma High School with his younger brother, Harold in 1950. He always joked he had a PhD – Post Hole Digger (degree).
In 1948, he bought an Indian motorcycle. In 1950, he bought a new Harley Panhead with a suicide clutch for $830. He could pop a wheelie, reave up the motor, slide the rear end around, and burn a donut. Herman didn’t like him tearing up the grass. The motorcycle was later restored by the Koenig family.
He enlisted in the Navy in 1950. Basic training was in San Diego and he was getting paid $78/month for 8 hours of work a day. His first assignment was in Guam. After Boot Camp, he went into the construction arm of the Navy, the Seabees. He was already assigned to Korea, and started that journey by going to Hawaii, then Japan. They landed at a Japanese base and were picked up in C-119 (“a flying boxcar”). He went into southern Korea where they traded all their Navy clothes for Marine greens and joined the First Marine Air Wing Division. Functioning as maintenance for the Marines, they repaired bridges and airstrips when blown up. This is where Donald learned how to operate a dozer, which he mastered and put to later use as he sculpted his 2,000 acre ranch north of Green Forest, Arkansas.
There were about 150-180 Seabees in Don’s detachment. They would set up a little city including drilling a well and base – first, by erecting tents and then later quonsets. They put in a sewer system, showers, and building fences around the parameter of the base, supporting about 6000 Marines.
After he was discharged from the Navy, he went back to Yuma to farm. He married Betty Rae Crandall in 1957 and to this union four children were born: Donna, Stephen, Deanne and Michael.
Donald’s favorite animal was his stud horse, Leo. He could catch him anywhere and ride him with a belt around his neck. He got him as a colt and groomed him every day. He also had a buckskin, Babe, during those years.
Donald felt that one of his greatest accomplishments was to build a 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom adobe house in 1969. He designed the machine and beaters to make the adobe bricks. It took him nearly a year to find the right asphalt mixture for the bricks. He played around with the asphalt oil about a year to see if it was going to crack and found he needed sandy loam soil rather than heavy dirt to prevent the bricks from cracking. He laid paper out and poured the mud into a mold he created. Each brick weighed 78 pounds wet and 58 pounds dry. The house walls were 22 inches thick and no air conditioning was needed in the summer because of the thickness of the walls.
He sold his Colorado property in the early 80’s and moved to Green Forest, Arkansas where he resided on Yocum Creek Ranch for the last 36 years.
Donald is preceded in death by his parents, Herman and Ella Blach; his sister, Arlene; his brother Sherman, and his brothers-in-law, Dick Filion and Carl Bates. Donald leaves behind a host of family and friends including his four children Donna (Allan Mills), Stephen, Deanne (Dave Crowl), and Michael (Lisa); five grandchildren, Craig (Chelsea) Couey, Anna, Michael, Renae, and Rachel Blach; and one great grandchild, Violet Rae, sister-in-law, Joan Blach; his siblings: Bethine Filion, Harold and Dottie Blach, Leonard and Joanne Blach, Millard and Sherrill Blach, Colleen Bates, and 19 nieces and nephews.
Graveside service will be held at Yocum Creek Cemetery on Saturday, September 15, 2018 at 2 pm. Celebration of Life will be held at Deanne’s house after the service at 724 CR 670, Green Forest, AR. Memorials may be made to the organization of your choice.