Rick Abbott, 5th Ward Alderman and Head of the Tree Committee for the City of Lockport, had to think creatively this year on what path to embark and project to take on for Arbor Day.
Honestly, after some research, I would say this Arbor Day was uniquely touching for the community in Lockport. In the past, plantings and donations by General Motors and Eastern Niagara Hospital, and establishments of the like, would sponsor these dedications.
This year, in the wake of COVID-19 and establishments closing doors or partially operating, the donating environment drastically changed.
This is where the Blackley Family stepped in, honoring a lineage spawning back a century in the City of Lockport.
Two trees have been planted in memoriam of four people: One tree at Levan Street Park, dedicated to Carl and Mary Lou Blackely; and a tree at Roger Street Park, dedicated to Laura Blackley and Mark Thistle.
The trees were relocated from Levan Street on a property belonging to the Blackley family. Pat and Mary Jo Blackley donated 2 pine trees, worth approximately $3,000 from the location. In addition, a total of $1,250 was donated for the planting and maintenance of both trees.
The Blackley family has a long history in Lockport.
Carl Blackley himself graduated from Lockport High School, attended Erie County Technical Institute, graduated from the University of Buffalo, was a Army Medical Corps Specialist in WWII, and then went on to be a safety specialist for a litany of engineering enterprises in western New York.
Mary Lou Blackley worked diligently for New York Telephone, a total of 26 years, retiring in 1990. After that, she received work as a Teachers Aide for the Lockport City School District and participated in varying volunteer organizations dedicated to health and education in the area.
Laura Blackley was born in the City of Lockport. She was a wife and mother. A beautician by trade. Laura held a special spot in her heart for animals, cooking, and the Buffalo Bills. Laura will always be remembered for her laughter, love, and the cherished moments shared with family and friends.
Mark Thistle, the husband of Mary Jo Blackley, was born in Maine, an avid fisherman, and loved anything to do with the outdoors both on water and land. He was a lineman with Pat Blackley at Edison in California, and a close mentor in Pat’s early years. After working forty years with Edison Electric, Mark built a cabin amongst the beautiful backdrop of the Alaskan wilderness.