As a former Radio and TV journalist I thought I had become inured to the tragedies that befall us as humans; with the death of Donna Blakney, I learned otherwise.
In 2007, stricken by six TIA strokes in one day, I remember the many times she fed me and always had a kind and optimistic view to make me feel better. And then after my release from Cumulus, when things didn”t seem the could get any worse, she not only fed me but also gave me words of wisdom that solidified my knowledge of why I was still here.
Donna Blakney, owner of PJ”s Barbecue, was on her way to work to supervise the final touches at her new location on Highway 45. As she traveled Highway 12 on a rainy Tuesday morning, she rounded a curve only to discover a truck jackknifing across the road. She did all she could to avoid an accident but there was no place to go. Donna died on the scene after being ejected from her vehicle.
Accidents and motor vehicle deaths always occur when life is going on its merry way. We are left to ask ourselves why? What was she thinking? Only God himself knows. What we do know is a humble and loving woman lost her life on that day. Left behind are family and friends who can only wonder why.
In the past few days I have received numerous e-mails recounting Donna”s impact on their lives. While we mourn her loss we would be remiss in not celebrating this incredible woman”s life.
No one word does her justice. To say she was a good-hearted, loving individual doesn”t do it. Donna truly, deeply and unselfishly cared for others. Sherry, through a veil of tears said simply she was my “sister.” Many people recounted the e-mails she sent out that brought a smile to your face no matter the type day you were having.
The MHP continues to investigate the accident. But at this point, to me personally, it doesn”t matter who is found at fault. She is gone and nothing can change that. However we can continue to build her legacy. We can pay things forward, not in the expectation of receiving something in return, but just because it”s the right thing to do. Donna loved this town and its citizens, always ready to give to charities and to help school fundraising.
I spoke with local businessman Rod Taylor, a partner of hers in the new restaurant on Highway 45 next to Gary”s Pawn and Gun. He stated unequivocally that “the new store will open, hopefully on Monday.”
We can also take from her death a lesson most of us know: Wear your seat belt. Doors are but an illusion that can be popped open even in the slightest of accidents. The only safety we have is that which holds us steady in place.
Donna we love you, more than we may have ever told you. May you rest in peace.
Services for Donna Blakney will be this evening at the Dowdle Funeral Home in Millport. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 with service to follow at 7, also at Dowdle Funeral Home.
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The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.