Service to honor life of Willis Blackshear, longtime county recorder

A service will be held Saturday to celebrate the life of Willis Blackshear, longtime Montgomery County recorder and Democratic Party activist. Blackshear died Feb. 19. SUBMITTED
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A service will be held Saturday to celebrate the life of Willis Blackshear, longtime Montgomery County recorder and Democratic Party activist. Blackshear died Feb. 19. SUBMITTED

The life of Willis Blackshear, Sr., the longtime Montgomery County recorder and Democratic Party activist who died last month, will be celebrated Saturday during a service at Sinclair Community College.

He was known to always help those in need, said Debra Harden, who was Blackshear’s deputy and now acting county recorder.

“Anybody who needed anything done, they would call him whether it related to his job or not,” Harden said. “He was a people person. If they had a problem he would always, always find a solution.”

The service will be at 1 p.m. in Sinclair’s Building 12, Smith Auditorium.

Blackshear loved public service, said his wife Regina.

“He was doing his dream job,” she said. “He always wanted to be in politics.”

Doctors had been treating Blackshear’s cancer for about a year, his wife said. He is also survived by a son, Willis Jr. and stepchildren, Jamil, Keianna and Brekila.

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Blackshear worked his way up the ranks during 22 years in the county’s treasurer’s office from an entry-level to managing the Tax Delinquency Department as the assistant county treasurer. In 2006, he was appointed county recorder. In 2008, he was elected to his first full term and was re-elected in 2012 and 2016.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said Blackshear transformed the community by helping motivate people to vote and participate in the political process.

“Willis has been an extraordinary advocate for the city, to the county, and for leadership on voting rights,” she said. “His leadership around creating black elected Democrats is something that has changed the face of local politics and made west Dayton and the city of Dayton have a stronger voice. We are definitely going to miss that.”

Blackshear graduated from Dunbar High School in 1979 and Fisk University in 1983.

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In 2009, he received the National Association of Social Workers Public Official of the Year Award and in 2016 was elected as the first African American president of the Ohio Recorders’ Association. He also served as board member for the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center and Sinclair Paralegal and Tawawa Community Development Corporation.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to “The Willis E. Blackshear, Sr. Scholarship Fund” of The Dayton Foundation, 40 N. Main Street, Suite 500, Dayton, Ohio 45423.

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