Marcus Ray Blakely, Jr., “Marc,” died peacefully at home on July 27, 2023, after a fiercely determined battle with cancer. Marc, 50, was a native of Nashville, Ark., and a 1991 honor graduate of Nashville High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Russian area studies from the United States Air Force Academy in 1995 and an MBA in finance, accounting and entrepreneurship from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in 2003.
Following his education at the Air Force Academy, Marc began his U.S. Air Force service. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant, command and control officer in Charleston, S.C., supporting world-wide strategic airlift missions. Later, Marc was selected to attend Air Battle Manager School in Panama City, Fla., where he graduated first in his class. He was last stationed in Oklahoma City, Okla., where he supported various world-wide operations as an E-3 AWACS weapons director. Despite his then-status as a junior captain, Marc was considered an integral part of any deployed combat crew and was often entrusted with myriad diplomatic activities involving host nations. His years of service also included assignments in the Middle East and Operation Allied Force in support of Kosovo.
Airplanes always fascinated Marc, and following his business school graduation, he combined his love of flight with his business skills and embarked on a successful career in the entrepreneurial aeronautics industry in Colorado. He first worked at Aviation Technology Group (ATG), where he met his future wife, Danielle, and then at Adam Aircraft Industries, Inc. Both companies were developing new aircraft at the time. Other than a five-year period spent working at private jet operator Mountain Aviation, the remainder of Marc’s career was spent with companies that manufacture composite parts for the aerospace industry, AdamWorks, LLC and, most recently, ACT Aerospace. He held various management and executive positions at each company.
Marc was preceded in death by his father, Marcus Ray Blakely. He is survived by his wife, Danielle Blakely, and their three daughters, Ashlyn Dooley, Kaitlyn Dooley and Josephine Rae Blakely, all of Centennial, Colo.; his mother, Shirley Blakely of Nashville, Ark; and his sister, brother-in-law and nephew, Laura, Matt and Blakely Harrison, all of Rogers, Ark. Marc leaves behind a host of other special family, friends, neighbors and colleagues who will miss his keen intellect, witty personality and willingness to help those in need. He was a devoted dad and loved his girls deeply, teaching them how to become responsible citizens and leading them by example with his own work ethic. Marc was an avid reader and curious student of the world, accepting any challenge to a game of trivia or chess. He enjoyed spending time outdoors, particularly fly fishing, and took great pleasure in helping others land a trout, especially one of his girls. The one lesson that Marc hoped that people would glean from his experience with cancer was the importance of prioritizing their health; please honor his life by taking the time to go to the doctor.
A graveside funeral service will be held on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. at The United States Air Force Academy Cemetery. Visitation will follow later that day from 5:30-8:00 p.m. at Wings Over the Rockies Exploration of Flight at Centennial Airport. The family wishes to remind those attending the service that adults will need a valid, government-issued photo ID to access Air Force Academy grounds and to please arrive at the Academy gate by 1:30 p.m. Marc’s wish was that any memorial donations may be made to UC Health Cancer Center – Anschutz Oncology.