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Concern for others resulted in Dial-A-Ride

By STEPHANIE HAYES
Published July 26, 2007


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LARGO - Even as a little boy, Timothy Blackmon preferred the company of old folks.

Coming home from school, he would walk up to his elderly neighbors, sit on their stoops and chat about the day.

"He was born a grownup," said his father, A.G. Blackmon. "He never cared that much about playing like other children. He loved to talk with adults."

In high school and college, Blackmon visited nursing homes and watched movies with the elderly on Sunday afternoons. Some would eye him suspiciously - why would a young man hang around old people?

Blackmon's son, Chad, traced it back.

When Blackmon was a young man in the Navy, one of his buddies died. He started visiting his deceased friend's lonely mother. They became close.

"Every time he saw an elderly person, he saw this woman," Chad said.

It never stopped. Blackmon visited nursing homes until the day he died of a sudden stroke at age 57.

He was popular in his Largo mobile home park, Fairway Village. He threw big breakfast parties and was famous for his homemade quiche, hurricane cake, rum pie and coconut custard pie.

In 2002, he found a new calling.

One of his neighbors had a minor heart attack. She wasn't able to drive to get medication that may have prevented it.

"For heaven's sake, I live across the street and down two houses," he told her. "You could have called me."

An idea was born. Blackmon established Dial-A-Ride, a free service for those who couldn't drive. He took calls on his personal cell phone, driving people to the doctor, the dentist, the airport - anywhere they needed to go.

They'd offer money. Put it in the poor box at church, he'd say.

He kept a log of his rides. At the end of five years, Dial-A-Ride had given more than 1,500.

Along the way, Blackmon met a 96-year-old woman whose daughter placed her in a mental ward. Convinced the woman was wronged, Blackmon visited her every day.

"After she died, Tim was there holding her hand," said his wife, Mary Blackmon.

Soon after, he became a Florida long-term care ombudsman. He regularly visited 12 assisted living facilities and nursing homes to investigate complaints.

He was awaiting the arrival of identical twin grandsons, due in October. Chad Blackmon will ensure his dad's legacy.

He'll name one of the babies Timothy.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at 727 893-8857 or shayes@sptimes.com

Biography

Timothy Blackmon

Born: Nov. 29, 1949.

Died: July 13, 2007.

Survivors: Wife, Mary Blackmon; parents, Dot and A.G. Blackmon; son, Chad (Amanda) Blackmon; stepdaughter, Cindy Dickerson; stepson, Ron Fullerton; grandchildren, Veronica Fullerton, Zack Dickerson; brothers, Terry (Marge) Blackmon and Bruce (Kathy) Blackmon; aunts, Ruth Whittle and Virginia Ackerman.

[Last modified July 25, 2007, 22:59:11]


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