Mahlon Blumenshine, 83, of Washington, passed away at 3:55 a.m, Thursday, January 5, 2012 at Washington Christian Village.
Mahlon was born on May 11, 1928 in Washington to Mahlon and Mabel Schick Blumenshine, Sr. He married Carolyn Longden in Creve Coeur on June 26, 1960. Carolyn survives.
Also surviving are three sons, Wes (Stacey) Blumenshine of Nashville, TN, Brad (Pru) Blumenshine of Mahomet and Blake (Liz) Blumenshine of Washington; three sisters, Mildred Wind, Margaret Pfeffinger and Marie Marsh all of Washington and six loving grandchildren, Wade, Paige, Drew, Devon, Brooke and Zachary.
Mahlon was born on a farm on the outskirts of Washington at the onset of the Great Depression. His sisters were 15, 10, and 2 years older and he was the apple of the family’s eye. Mahlon liked to tell the story of how one Christmas all he got was an orange, a pen knife, and some hard candy. But the family was close, and Mahlon loved his parents and his sisters like few siblings do and they all stayed in the same town and remained best friends for all their lives. Mahlon would walk with his sisters several miles to a one room schoolhouse outside Washington.
During high school, Mahlon would wake up early to fire the furnace at the A&P on the square. He graduated from Washington Community High School in the class of 1946. In 1948 at age 20 he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in the Korean War. He was stationed in Sendai, Japan. After discharge, he worked as a manager for A&P and then in 1953 he began his banking career at Central Bank in Peoria, where he met the love of his life, Carolyn. They married in 1960 and built a house a year later, which they live in today. In time, he became the President of East Peoria Community Bank and later of the Sunstar Bank. He survived a holdup at gunpoint and had two cars stolen from his driveway.
Mahlon loved his hometown as much as anyone could. In fact, he seldom even vacationed because he couldn’t think of anywhere else he’d rather be. He was a collector, with an impressive collection of currency and also of farm antiques, smoking memorabilia, medical quackery, political pins, and commemorative plates. Probably due to being raised during the depression he threw nothing away, which eventually became a family joke, but not funny enough for Mahlon to get rid of anything. He and Carolyn had three sons and their lives revolved around their boys.
They were involved parents and they raised their sons right, as evidenced by their wonderful daughters-in-law who Mahlon loved like they were his own daughters, and their six grandchildren. For forty years, every three months and every New Years, he and Carolyn got together to eat dinner and play games with The Group (Mahlon’s classmates, war buddies, spouses, and other friends). When they were young, Carolyn and Mahlon bowled in a mixed doubles league and Mahlon bowled in a men’s league.
Mahlon also enjoyed a friendly game of botche ball, croquet, billiards, and tabletop shuffleboard. He and his sons used to play cribbage for hours. Early on, Mahlon smoked cigarettes like so many did but being the great father and example he was he quit cold turkey at a block party on the 4th of July 1973 after being appalled at the sight of his sons holding cigarettes to light firecrackers.
Mahlon and Carolyn used to enjoy their Saturday night poker games with their neighbors. He also enjoyed a Sunday drive, which his sons abhorred but were forced to endure anyway. He didn’t listen to music but he enjoyed Johnny Carson, the Honeymooners, and Wheel of Fortune. One of his joys was yard work and gardening. He used to have one of the nicest yards in town and he enjoyed tending to flowers, vegetables, tomatoes, sunflowers and gourds in the field behind their house. He enjoyed eating out, especially later in life, mostly because it gave him another opportunity to get out and talk to people. His calling card was to leave tips with two dollar bills and waitresses everywhere adored him.
He was a lifelong member of the Washington Evangelical United Methodist Church and for years his family sat in the same pew in the back of the old sanctuary. He was a lifelong member of Kickapoo Council of Boy Scouts of America, President of the American Institute of Banking, a Washington alderman from 1979-1983, Treasurer of District 50 schools for 18 years, a member of the Washington American Legion, a charter member of the Washington VFW, an organizer and charter member of the Sunnyland Business Association, and President of the Washington Panther Booster Club.
He was a lifelong booster of Washington sports and in 1994 was named the Washington Panther Fan of the Year. In 1999, he was bestowed the highest award in Washington, the Washingtonian of the Year. It was the proudest moment of his life to be recognized by his hometown, for which he was always so proud. In 1999, he and Carolyn traveled to Singapore to visit their oldest son and family, who were living there at the time.
It was a memorable trip and on his return he gave small lectures about it to local organizations. He loved the people aspect of banking and didn’t want to retire but he finally did at the age of 74. He then served on the board of the Morton Community Bank. He and Carolyn have been generous supporters of the Five Points community center in Washington.
Mahlon seldom had a bad word to say about anyone. If someone was acting inappropriately he would say they were probably just having a bad day or they were probably pretty good most of the time. And, around him, they were. He made it manly to be sweet and cool to be kind. He was the storybook small town banker who knew everyone in town and who would loan someone money when no one else would on the basis of their word and a handshake. To this day, many people still remember him as the one who believed in them and gave them a start in business.
You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who had a bad word to say about him. He didn’t particularly like conflict and his sons would say that he was the only person who when buying a car would pay the asking price and when selling a car would take whatever was offered. More than anything, Mahlon enjoyed being with his family. He loved family get-togethers and there were always big ones at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays with his sisters, brothers-in-law, nephews and nieces, cousins, children and grandchildren. To him, that’s what life was all about. He didn’t need much and he never asked for anything other than to be with people. In his last days, his refusal to complain and his smile melted the hearts of his caregivers and his dozens of visitors.
His family would like to thank the loving and caring caregivers at Procter Hospital and the Washington Christian Village for all they did and the comfort they provided. He left the world a better place than when he came into it and even heaven is improved by his presence. His example of joyful living and love of all people will be remembered by everyone lucky enough to have known him. He will be missed.
Funeral services will be held on Monday, January 9, 2012 at 11 a.m. at Evangelical United Methodist Church (401 Walnut Street, Washington) with Pastor John Hauck officiating.
Burial will follow in Glendale Cemetery in Washington with military honors accorded by the U. S. Army and the Tazewell Military Rites Team.
Visitation will be at the church on Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. and one hour prior to services on Monday.
Mason-White Funeral Home is assisting the family in arrangements.
Those serving as pallbearers will be Wade Blumenshine, Drew Blumenshine, Dan Longden, Rick Everetts, Bill Hamilton and kenneth Wind.
Memorials may be made to the Evangelical United Methodist Church or a charity of your choice.
Online condolences to the family may be made at www.masonfuneralhomes.com