Jett — sometimes referred to by family and friends as Craddock or “Muck” — was born June 15, 1932, in Los Angeles, Calif., to Jett Blackburn and Easter Dae Craddock Blackburn.
Jett and his wife, Dorothy, were married for 50 years. Together they had a son, Curt. Dorothy brought four children to the family: Deb, Rick, Randy and Dina. Jett was previously married to Rosie Garatea and had three children by that marriage: Rex, Kim and Jan.
Jett will be remembered for his love of family, his many friends, hard work, willingness to take business risks, love for his Harney County community and his ever-present sense of humor.
Jett was devoted to his family, especially his eight children. He recognized each for their unique qualities, but treated each equally. Despite the demands of his work, he valued above all his time in the hay fields mentoring his sons, attending his children’s and grandchildren’s sports and school activities, deer and bird hunting with family, the family’s annual Memorial Day weekend fishing trip and all family get-togethers.
Jett was raised on a ranch homesteaded by his parents in Silvies Valley. As a child, he rode his horse, Flicka, to school and drove a horse-drawn hay rake. Jett acquired a strong work ethic and practical view on life from his early years on the ranch. Never idle, as a young man he operated a Caterpillar tractor skidding logs and building roads, drove a fuel truck, worked at the Burns Garage and served in the National Guard.
In the early 1960s, Jett joined and later acquired the real estate brokerage firm founded by his parents, Jett Blackburn Real Estate. Jett took great pride when his son, Curt, joined and also later took over the firm as its third-generation owner.
Jett sold ranches and real estate for nearly 50 years, working most of those years with his trusted assistant, Ruby Tiller, who still works for the firm. Jett loved the “art of the deal” and interacting with people from varied walks of life. Many of his clients became his lifelong friends.
Jett satified his abundant curiosity and appetite for risk by initiating various businesses during the course of his life. In addition to real estate, he sold insurance and mobile homes. He developed farmland, grew alfalfa and grain, started Jett Farms (his custom haying business), designed haying equipment, owned and operated a video store and a convenience store, and developed, built and ran the Narrows RV Park.
Not every project was a success, though. One of his favorite unsuccessful projects was the “dew machine.” He decided that because he was having so much trouble baling hay because of a lack of dew, he would build a machine that would add moisture into hay with a steam cleaner. He had read about a college in Australia that was working on developing a dew machine, so he flew down to Los Angeles to meet with a representative. Well, $20,000 later, Jett decided Mother Nature does know best and he abandoned the project. Jett loved telling the story and getting a laugh about his “dew dew” machine.
Jett valued and was involved in his community. He was a member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Harney County ESD Board. He was Mason, a Scottish Rite Mason and a Shriner. In 1959, he was the Harney County Chamber of Commerce Junior Man of the Year, and in 2002, the chamber’s Businessman of the Year. Jett received the Wetland Project Award from the Oregon State Land Board in 2004 for his work in wetland development at Sodhouse Farms near the Malheur Bird Refuge, a farm and conservation project he co-owned.
Jett’s sometimes devilish, sometimes salty, but ever-present sense of humor was legendary. He found fun in even the most routine, everyday events. His friends and family were drawn to him for his extraordinarily good nature. Jett had a favorite quote from a western movie he wanted to be remembered by: “He wasn’t all bad and he wasn’t all good … but he was ALL man!”
Jett is survived by his wife, Dorothy; children, Deb Tipton (Gary) of Eugene, Rick Vandervort (Plemmie) of San Diego, Rex Blackburn (Barb) of Boise, Idaho, Kim Blackburn (Gary Betts) of Boise, Idaho, Randy Vandervort (Tracy) of Phoenix, Dina Beverly (Brent) of Burns and Curt Blackburn (Kaeko) of Burns; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Jett and Easter Blackburn; sister, Mildred; and daughter, Jan.
Memorial donations in Jett Blackburn’s name may be made to the Shriner’s Children Hospital in care of LaFollette’s Chapel, P.O. Box 488, Burns, OR 97720.