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Faye Blackstone posthumously inducted into Farm City Week Ag Hall of Fame

PALMETTO

The mementos of Faye Blackstone were many.

The shiny championship belt buckles and saddle.

Her smiling face on magazine covers.

Photos of her performing signature daredevil moves like the ballerina and flyaway on horseback.

They were all on display for Blackstone’s legion of admirers at the Palmetto Woman’s Club, where the late heroine and horsewoman was posthumously inducted at the Farm City Week Agriculture Hall of Fame luncheon.

Yet it was for other things, not just her trick riding prowess, that people remembered and honored her Thursday.

Blackstone passed in August at 96, but, along with husband Vick, who died in 1987, she was known for generosity and kindness in the community, not just for her heralded career as an accomplished rodeo rider.

“All the things she has done for others nobody has ever known,” said Betty Glassburn, a seventh-generation Manatee Countian and a Farm City Week committee member for 20 years. “She and Vick have taken care of several children and donated to organizations and never did it for acknowledgment.”

Also at the luncheon, Palmetto High’s Luke Lester and Nolan Middle’s Courtney Davis were recognized as Farm City Week essay winners. Bayshore High’s Kayla Lepiscopo was recognized as the Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District speech contest winner.

Faye Blackstone would’ve been proud of them, Buddy Keen said.

“She helped this county, helped kids, kids who didn’t have anything,” said the 61-year-old citrus grove owner and seventh-generation Manatee Countian. “Slip them money, help them with calves and steers. Always did it anonymously, right up until time she died. She was an all-around good woman.”

Susan Youngblood knew it well.

She was a Parrish neighbor of Blackstone’s for 35 years.

“Faye was a mentor, friend and a mother, too,” Youngblood said. “She used to say I was the daughter she never had. She probably told other people that, too, but she was so full of love.

“She wrote these sweet little notes and I’ve kept every one of them. Those are treasures to me.”

For Dana Parrish, 65, the treasures were a pair of boots.

“As a child, all I ever wanted to be was a cowgirl,” said the fifth-generation Manatee Countian. “My great aunt went to a rummage sale at church and bought me my first pair of cowboy boots. She said, ‘These are from a real live cowgirl. These belonged to Faye Blackstone.’

“I used to wear them for hours riding a sawhorse.”

A Diller, Neb., farmgirl, Fayetta June Blackstone rode horses at 3, became a rodeo professional in 1935 and after marrying Vick on horseback in 1937, performed with her husband from Mexico to Madison Square Garden.

She was the featured act in the Gene Autry Wild West Show.

Just a few of the many honors Blackstone has received are:

n Induction into National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1982.

n Manatee County commissioners name Blackstone Park after her and her husband in 1988.

n Induction into Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2004.

The Blackstones also started the Manatee County Horseman Association Riding Club and managed the 11,000-acre Quarter Circle Cattle Ranch in Parrish.

“Faye was still riding in her 90s,” Youngblood said. “She was true, an old-timer that won’t come this way again.”

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055.

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