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1936 Sally Jo Blankenbaker 2023

Sally Jo Blankenbaker

August 19, 1936 — December 21, 2023

Long Beach

Sally Jo Nash Blankenbaker entered into the garden of eternal life on Thursday December 21, 2023. She was residing in Long Beach, Mississippi with her youngest daughter, Grace Elgin Billiot.


She was preceded in death by her mother and father, Teresa and Henry Nash; husbands, Richard “Dick” Hathorne and Ben Ross Blankenbaker; her daughter, Debra Dawn Foles Cherota; grandson, Jason Wade Box; and beloved dog “Fefe Marie Blankenbaker.”


She is survived by daughter, Connie Jo Britt (Glenn); son, John Sherman Foles (Tommie Gail); daughter, Grace Elgin Billiot; stepchildren, granddaughters, Alisa S Cook, Sara Ann Tootle, Robin Meinka, Roberta Abshire, Leah Cicero, and Kara Williams; grandsons, Jonathan D Smith, Richard Arron Billiot, Jeremiah Billiot, John Arthur Billiot and John Sherman Foles II; many great grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.  During her lifetime she was able to see the fifth generation added to her lineage.


Sally Jo Nash was born a coal miner’s daughter in Piper, Bibb County Alabama on Wednesday August 19, 1936.  As the only child of John Henry Nash and Teresa Elgin White, Sally was an adored child.  The apple of her father’s eye.  She often recalled fond memories of waiting for him to return home after a day underground in the coal mines, buying staple items from the local general store, playing under the front porch as a hideaway place and gathering around outside to airplanes fly by.  She also recalled stories of spending time at the local restaurant her mother worked at. During a time of segregation Sally made her own decisions in what she thought was right and justified in the eyes of a child.  She often was caught not following the ways she was instructed.  An early sign of the love, empathy, and compassion for she held all people of all walks of life.  The simplicity of being raised in the 1930’s and 1940’s overcoming hardships, being born not breathing, later a life threatening illness, and a serious horse injury during her childhood would later play into her life by being a survivor and knowing what to truly value: Life itself, God and family.  One of her treasured items was her daddy’s lunchbox which was proudly displayed in her home later in life.  A symbol of hard work, faith and family.


Acknowledging family roots, the deep love for her family and friends, treasuring the small and simple joys of life, living a life of helping and giving to others along with a never ending devotion to the Lord were Sally’s focus through her lifetime. To have known Sally was to have known someone with a heart pure of love, joy and cheer. She brought smiles and laughter wherever she went with her genuine southern hospitality always an open home to all, her voice that was so gentle and beautiful could take your blues and worries away with a simple “Hey Boo!”  One could often recall Sally’s words of wisdom and humor. “This to shall pass” “Drive for every idiot out there.”  She always had a place to display photos of loved ones who needed extra prayer with her saying “their house is on fire.”  Along with any travels that she made would result in a story of what took place at some point of any given abandoned barn, old house, or shed that was passed along the way.  She also would acknowledge that American would not be what we are today without the hard working mules, horses and donkeys. “Man owes so much to mules.”  She was forever acknowledging accomplishments and sacrifices it took made this country and took heartfelt pride in having the freedom and rights we have as Americans.


Sally lead a life during a time women were gaining independence.  She graduated from Tuscaloosa High School. worked at a military test site, housed military soldiers and their families, owned and ran a local Maben Mississippi newspaper, managed apartments along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, worked at the historic Mary Mahoney’s in Biloxi, MS, was a part of the annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Miss Hospitality organization.  She was a legend as the most delightful switchboard operator for The President, Broadwater, and The Palace Casinos and Hotels.  Again her beautiful southern charm and voice was a such part of these jobs and duties she was often recognized for it. She first hand witnessed the decades of change to her beloved Mississippi Gulf Coast.  She saw the devastation of many hurricanes, watched homes become historical landmarks, factories come and go to be replaced by casinos and hotels. She loved the beauty of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  She admired the state flower and affectionately called her daughters “Her steel magnolias.”


She carried the ability to quote from authors, actors, Presidents, and the Bible. All from love for reading and just the knowledge of facts from history had etched in her memory.  Her mind could calculate numbers like a machine.  Her love and curiosity for history often was the center of a conversation with her. She loved watching Western movies and TV shows.  It is doubtful there isn’t one out there she hasn’t watched at least twice.


Sally believed in giving to others and forgiveness.  Her last dollar has been given away to someone in need many times over.  She could see past other’s faults, mistakes or errors.  Believed in someone getting a second chance to right a wrong. She found silver linings or a new lesson learned in any experience life brought.  She did not hold grudges nor judgement and looked for the brighter side of any situation.   Her happy and cheerful outlook on life was contagious. One felt refreshed, loved and happy after sharing some time with her.


Sally Jo leaves a family that will always hold her on their hearts with love, respect and admiration.  Her drive to work hard, love deeply, forgive, care and give to others, survive the challenges and hardships with grace and a smile.  Always keeping a strong faith in both family and the Lord will continue through those who loved her.


We will all be waiting for the day she greets us again with her most cheerful voice “Well, Hey Boo!”


Sally will be laid to rest on Tuesday December 26, 2023 in Maben, MS at Maben Memorial Gardens. With a viewing on Christmas Eve on the Mississippi Gulf Coast at Riemann Family Funeral Home.


Pallbearers will be Jonathan D Smith, Richard Arron Billiot, John Sherman Foles II, David M Cook, Glenn Britt, Fred Fly, and Mitchell Gordon.


The family of Sally Jo would like to acknowledge Saint Joseph Hospice of Gulfport, MS and the tenderness and patience from her caregiving staff Stephanie and Chenelle.


The Riemann Family Funeral Home, Long Beach, is serving the family and online condolences may be offered at 


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Sally Jo Blankenbaker, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Starts at 1:00 pm (Central time)

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