Cover photo for Dick Balkins's Obituary
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Dick Balkins

February 19, 1928 — June 7, 2023

Boise

Dick Balkins

 

Dick’s given name was Almon James Balkins, Jr. He was born February 19, 1928 to Florence Ann Reichel Balkins and Almon James Balkins Sr. in Tacoma Park, Maryland.  He died on June 7, 2023 while living with family in McCall, Idaho.     Before he was a year old, “Junior” moved with his family via the Panama Canal to Southern California where over the years his father maintained several small medical practices assisted by his mother, as the office nurse.  His independence was displayed by his early rejection of the name “Junior” when he announced to his elementary classmates his name was “Dick”.

Growing up as an only child in the 1930s and 1940s near Hollywood and San Gabriel California, Dick found hours of contentment in studying and family outings with his parents. Dick’s life-long joy of reading was initiated on his long trolly car rides to and from elementary school.  His ability to take care of himself was early demonstrated by his allocation of the quarter he was given to buy lunch each day: a nickel each for a pickle, candy bar, soda and donut – leaving the last nickel to get two day-old donuts to enjoy on the ride home from school.

Finishing the 8th grade at age 13 and accelerating through high school and college, at age 18 Dick started medical school at Loma Linda University, Loma Linda California, his father’s alma mater.  During medical school Dick married Dorothy Evelyn McConaughey, “Dottie”, whom he had started dating in college.   Dottie had been the chaperon on a freshman year date, and Dick decided she was more fun to be around than his date – the two of them became a couple for life, until her death in 2005.   Chloe Ann, the oldest of three children, and Almon James III were both born as Dick was completing his medical training in various parts of California.

As Dr. Balkins, Dick’s early medical practice was in Powell, Wyoming with a well-respected senor partner, Lowell Kattenhorn.   Being many miles from a major medical center, the partners had a true “family practice”, with each delivering over 125 babies a year.  Dick continued as a small-town doctor until his mid-30s, with a two-year interruption working for the federal government as the chief medical officer at an Oklahoma federal penitentiary.   Dick and Dottie’s youngest son, Glenn Dee was born in Oklahoma, with his birth certificate listing the mother’s address as “El Reno Federal Penitentiary”.

The family years in Wyoming were a highlight of Dick’s life and a marked change from his childhood in southern California.  Weekends were spent hiking, camping, snow skiing and boating with family and friends.  For several years in a row, Dick had the first permit each year to put a boat on Yellowstone Lake where the family would break the ice to get to favorite camping areas on the back side of the lake.  Dick’s feet were often off the ground as he earned his private pilot’s license and explored Wyoming’s vast county from the air.

To advance his medical knowledge, Dick returned to Loma Linda University in 1964 for an anesthesia residence.   This precipitated a move to Boulder, Colorado where Dick provided anesthesia services for over 30 years.  The Colorado Rockies became Dick’s and the family’s new backyard, with Boulder Reservoir and Lake Powell, as the new watering holes.  Among his active participation on hospital boards, church boards, and working with youth groups, Dick fit in multiple overseas mission trips to provide personal health care or help build churches or schools in remote locations.  His early childhood experiences sailing 12-foot boats on Lake Arrowhead in southern California extended to multiply bare boat sailing trips with family and friends to the Caribbean area.  In the later years, their motorhome trips around the United States became Dick’s and Dottie’s preference over the earlier years of back packing.   Always exploring and often accompanied by family or friends.

Throughout their lives, the Balkins home was always open to many who became part of the Balkins extended family.  Della, John, Sue, Rose, and many others, found time as “family” members in Dick and Dottie’s home – where ever that might be.  Their church, neighbors and hospital connections were always about the people and bringing strength to the community.

Shortly after leaving the practice of medicine at age 72 and having survived two serious cancer scares, Dick, with Dottie, moved to Boise, Idaho to be closer to family.   For almost two decades in addition to his extensive reading, Dick was active in the Garden Valley and Eagle Seventh-day Adventist Church communities with a wide range of activities, including helping with services, yard work, and frequently extending individuals a helping hand or patient ear, often over breakfast, lunch or dinner and regularly in his home.  In 2020 COVID – 19 created an environment where it was more difficult for him to live alone, and he joined family living in McCall.  In his last few years, the Idaho scenery, daily walks, abundant wild life and exceptional caregivers caused some family members to observe that he may have already gone to Heaven without dying.  But in fact, he did die on June 7, 2023.

Almon James Balkins Jr was preceded in death by his parents, and his life companion, Dorothy Balkins.  He is survived by: Chloe Clark and her husband, Norman Clark, their children Cora Clark and Colin Clark, his wife Candace and great granddaughter Iris; Jim Balkins and his wife, Judith; and Glenn Balkins, and his wife Jeenie, their daughters Emily, her husband Landon Rogers, and great granddaughter Kinley and Amy, her husband Bryston Robeson and great grandson Colton.  The family wishes to extend a special thanks to the many caregivers that have enriched Dick’s life in recent years, especially Bill, Brittni, Ruth, Glenna and Bob.   Memorials in Dick’s name can be made to the organization of your choice or to the St. Luke’s McCall Foundation “Compassion Fund” in McCall, Idaho, which represents the small-town medical services that Dick treasured providing while living in Wyoming.

Dick’s interment and a grave side service for family and friends will be held at Dry Creek Cemetery on Tuesday, June 13 at 2:00 pm.

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

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