Former Prosser councilman Philip Blakney dies

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldOctober 22, 2013 

PROSSER -- A longtime Prosser councilman and retired pharmacist has died.

Philip Blakney was 88.

He owned Phil's Corner Drug in Prosser for 23 years.

The drugstore was still going strong when Dr. Ben Sonnichsen and his family moved to Prosser in 1979.

"He was a great guy, very professional as a pharmacist and extremely kind and helpful," said Sonnichsen, adding Blakney "was a very loved and respected person in the community."

"There will always be a very, very special place for him in my heart," Sonnichsen said.

Blakney was born in Milton-Freewater, Ore. After graduating high school, he enlisted in the Navy and served at a medical hospital in the Admiralty Islands in the South Pacific during World War II. Through the G.I. Bill, he was able to attend the University of Washington where he received his degree in pharmacy in 1951, according to his obituary in the Prosser Record-Bulletin.

He married June Lehman in 1949 and moved to Heppner, Ore., where he owned and operated Phil's Corner Drug before they moved to Prosser in 1961 and opened a drug store, the obituary said.

"I remember he had an old fashioned soda fountain in the drug store which made our family very happy. It was one of those wonderful things about Prosser that made us happy we moved here," said Sonnichsen.

When Phil's closed in the mid-1980s Blakney continued to work as a pharmacist at Costco until his retirement in 1990, the obituary said.

Blakney was active in the Prosser community as a member of the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club and was a councilman for 19 years. He also served as mayor pro tem.

He also worked at Prosser Community Hospital for nearly 20 years.

In January 2003, Blakney received the city's Distinguished Service Award.

He also served as chairman of the Republican Party of Benton County. His interest in politics led to his attendance of President Ronald Reagan's inauguration in 1985, the obituary said.

He supported youth athletics and served as president of the Mid-Valley Swim League and was one of the founders of the Prosser Piranhas Swim Team. He also coached Little League baseball.

The Blakneys attended Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Prosser. He was an active church member, serving on the parish council and parish finance committee. He was also an eucharistic minister, taught catechism and organized youth activities at the church, the obituary said.

"When I think back on the family, the Blakneys have always been one of those good, solid American Prosser people. They were outstanding in the community," said Sonnichsen.

Blakney and his wife, June, had nine children. One son, Mark, died in 1972. June Blakney died Aug. 5, 1998.

Blakney remarried in 2000 and is survived by his wife, Barbara. He had 23 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

A rosary will be held at Sacred Heart at 7:30 p.m. today. The Rite of Christian Burial will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at the church. A reception will follow.

Prosser Funeral Home and Crematory is in charge of arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Special Projects Fund at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus or a charity of your choice.

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