**In accordance with the State of Colorado guidelines, please observe "social distancing" and face masks/coverings are required**
Richard “Curly” Blackburn was born at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado on September
20, 1939 and returned to Idaho Springs for the next few years where his parents, Bill and Bess
Blackburn owed/operated the Columbia Barber Shop until his father moved the family to the
Denver area. When the US entered WWII in 1941 Curly’s father began work as one of 20,000
workers manufacturing ammunition for the US war effort at the Denver Ordnance Plant. Shortly
after the war ended in 1945, he began school in South Denver at Barnum Elementary, then
attended Kepner Junior High School, and started High School at West High in 1955. While at
West High, Curly chose to become a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC),
anticipating his entry into military service.
In the spring of 1957 after his junior year, he entered service in the US Navy at the Military
Entrance Processing (MEPS) station in Denver, Colorado and completed basic training in San
Diego, California. He would later earn his GED while serving in the US Navy, but not before
completing two FAR EAST Cruises (1957-1959) on the USS Bennington (CVS-20), an antisubmarine support carrier that had also seen service in the Pacific Theater during WWII. In the early 1960s Curly returned to the Denver area where he met Linda Truax. In his later personal recollections, he described Linda as the “love of his life,” and they were married at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church on December 10, 1964. Over the next four years they added three daughters to their family - Beth Ann (1965), Gwyn (1967), and Paula (1968). In 1970 Curly and Linda purchased their first home in Arvada, CO and raised their three daughters until they
relocated to Wheatridge, CO after their girl’s graduated from Arvada High School.
Curly had accumulated over 20 years of service in the US Navy when he retired in 1980 as Petty
Officer First Class, SK1. Although his Navy rate of SK1 identified him as a Storekeeper tasked
with maintaining ship or supply stores ashore or afloat, for the majority of his Naval career
Curly served in US Navy Recruiting Command at the Denver Federal Center near 6th Avenue and
Kipling Street. Coincidentally, Curly served his country at the same site where his father worked
some decades prior when the Denver Federal Center was the Remington Arms plant operated
for the US Government. In the early 1980s he worked at Colorado National Bank as a Security
Guard, and later he served his community by working for Jefferson County Schools at Fruitdale
School and Arvada High School in the Maintenance Department. When Colorado established
casino gambling in 1991 he returned to the security field and worked at Golden Gates Casino
from 1991 to 1994 in the Central City/Black Hawk National Historic District. In 1994, Curly
accepted the position as the “Conductor” at Colorado Central Station greeting and assisting
guests arriving at the largest and one of the most successful casinos in Colorado in the 1990s.
He left the casino industry in early 2000 to work closer to home, and began working for the
Colorado Rockies then later the Denver Broncos in guest relations. Until 2017 he continued to
work part-time, giving tours of the Broncos’ stadium at Invesco Field.
Curly enjoyed the outdoors all of his life – took his family on many camping trips, fishing
adventures, and a few “white knuckle” off road trips throughout Colorado. He and his wife
Linda traveled many times to visit his daughter and grandchildren in Texas before she passed in
2004. He was enthralled with the history of the West, first reading about places such as Taos
and Santa Fe (New Mexico), Bryce and Zion National Parks (Utah), and the Alamo (Texas) then
later visiting them with his family. Curly was also known for his leather work among friends and
family, a hobby he had a passion for in his free time – making “signature” pieces for himself and
Curly’s family was the pride and joy of his life, and his friends and family will remember him as
an outgoing man of unique sayings and simple pleasures, with a generous and wandering spirit
that was hard to define or duplicate. Whether he was sharing a beer at Colorado Plus in
Wheatridge or getting ready to “hy-ah-col” (set off near and far) to celebrate an important
event, he didn’t know a stranger in his journey through this life.
He is survived by his three daughters Beth Symington, MAJ (ret) Gwyn Bourlakov (ARNG), and
Paula Blackburn; son-in-laws Brent Symington and Garett Lazenby; eleven grandchildren –
Sarah Barber, Ryan Barber, Alissa Barber, Jake Symington, Grace Symington, Capt. Grigory
(Grisha) Bourlakov, (USAF), CPT Delaney Welch Bourlakov (USMC), Anna (Anya) Bourlakov, Erin
Swenson, Haley Swenson, and Lindsey Swenson.
To share a memory or leave a message of condolence, please click on the "Share Memories" button above.