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Columbia Missourian

Dr. Michael D. Blackburn's passion for healing spurred by war experiences

By Laura D'Angelo
April 6, 2012 | 8:21 p.m. CDT

Dr. Michael D. Blackburn was a war hero, husband, doctor and father. 

Dr. Blackburn, of Columbia, died Tuesday, April 3, at Truman Veterans Hospital. He was 66. 

He was born Dec. 9, 1945, to Muriel and Jule Blackburn Jr. 

Dr. Blackburn served in the Army from 1966 to 1969. He served one year in Vietnam, where he suffered head injuries, burns, shrapnel wounds and exposure to toxins when he tried to pull a comrade from a burning vehicle. For his efforts, Dr. Blackburn rose from infantryman to sergeant, and he was awarded five medals of honor, including the Purple Heart. That's also where his interest in medicine began.

After his discharge from the Army, Dr. Blackburn returned home to help his father start a business in Carrollton Township, Mich. — "The Saginaw Sling," which provided needed boating equipment in the Saginaw, Mich. bay area. 

In 1971, he graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with a bachelor's degree in zoology. He graduated with a medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1975. 

He completed his surgery internship at MU in 1976.

Dr. Blackburn married Kathleen Buschmeyer on Sept. 25, 1976.

The couple moved to Jacksonville, Fla., where Dr. Blackburn completed an emergency medicine residency at the University of North Florida. He served as chief resident during his senior year.

He then accepted his first position as a board certified emergency medicine physician at North Memorial Hospital in Minneapolis. 

The couple enjoyed adventuring in Minnesota but missed their families and the warm Missouri climate. 

Dr. Blackburn accepted an emergency medicine position at Boone Hospital Center in Columbia, where he served as chairman of the Disaster Committee for 12 years. He had a special interest in earthquake preparedness. 

He became the director of Emergency Services at Boone Hospital Center in 1989. 

Dr. Blackburn was a member of many organizations including the American Medical Association, the Missouri State Medical Association, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American Board of Emergency Medicine, the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan, Mizzou Alumni Association, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars USA and the Columbia United Church of Christ. He also served as president of his neighborhood association. 

He enjoyed reading, playing the guitar, woodcarving, building furniture, canoeing, fishing, camping with his wife, cross country skiing and blading snow for his neighbors on his John Deere tractor. 

Dr. Blackburn is survived by his wife, Kathleen; a daughter, Katrina; two brothers, Bruce and his wife, Rhonda, and Danny and his wife, Connie; and a sister, Julie Blackburn; and nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and in-laws.

Visitation will be from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday at Parker Funeral Service & Crematory, 22 N. Tenth St..

Visitation will also be from 10 to 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Peter's United Church of Christ, 20 E. Fifth St., Washington, Mo. Service will follow at the same location. Burial will be in Oak Haven Memorial Gardens on Highway 19, Hermann.

Condolences can be posted at