Donald J. and Barbara J. Blackburn - Chapman Legacy Society
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Gifts Established:

  • Donald J. Blackburn Presidential Scholarship in Sociology Endowment Fund | Est. 2004
  • Donald J. Blackburn Endowed Scholarship in Sociology Endowment Fund | Est. 2004
brick engraved with name Donald J. and Barbara J. Blackburn

Donald J. and Barbara J. Blackburn

Donald J. “Don” Blackburn (BA ’66, Sociology) and his wife, Barbara, lived long and productive lives, leaving behind a generous legacy that benefits The University of Tulsa and the students following in Don’s footsteps.

Don was born in 1939 in Decatur, Illinois. He served in the United States Army from 1959 to 1960. In 1961, Don married Tulsa native Barbara J. Ballard, and they went on to have two children. Don attended TU, and during his senior year, he received the Betty Jo Mitchell Scholarship in Sociology, which was instrumental in helping him to complete his studies and graduate in 1966. He later earned his Master of Arts in 1980 from Fordham University.

After his TU graduation, Blackburn began what would become a highly successful career as a probation officer, starting as a Juvenile Probation Counselor in Tulsa. Two years later, the couple moved to Wichita, Kansas, where Don served as a Probation Officer in increasingly senior roles for the next 20 years.

Don and Barbara developed many friendships in Wichita, and Don was later remembered by one of his close friends there as being “an honorable man in all respects.”  An avid long-distance runner, Don ran six days a week during his years in Kansas, completing the Lincoln Marathon with one of his running friends and becoming well established in his career.

In 1986, Don and Barbara made a cross country move to Rhode Island, where Don served out his distinguished career as Chief U.S. Probation Officer in the United States District Court for the District of Providence, Rhode Island, until his retirement in 1999. Don Blackburn was listed in Who’s Who in the East.

In 2004, this philanthropic couple committed two planned gifts to create the Donald J. Blackburn Presidential Scholarship in Sociology Endowment Fund and the Donald J. Blackburn Scholarship in Sociology Endowment Fund.

Don passed away in 2021, and Barbara passed away in 2022, but their significant endowments continue to create opportunities for deserving students majoring in sociology. The University of Tulsa is grateful for their enduring support.