A Salute To the Blackfords
& Dan Finch
The news got out early this year that Wayne & Barbara Blackford
came down with the Covid-19 virus. They both tested positive after an
accidental exposure. Wayne only got the sniffles, according to family,
but Barbara was hospitalized January 6 and only came home in early
They have been teachers and choreographers for more than 40 years, and
are the ONLY round dance leaders to have received all five top awards
given by the round dance community. They were bicoastal, living and
teaching in Mesa, AZ, during the winter dance season there, and the
rest of the year they were at home in Jacksonville, FL. Last week,
Wayne and his son-in-law went to Mesa to close up and dispose of their
Tower Point home there.
Word got out that they are retiring. Ah, not so. Barbara expects to
recover and continue teaching on the East Coast, according to family.
They apparently became exposed during the Christmas holidays. Barbara
became ill, but not with typical Covid symptoms. She had pain in her
lower back and a kidney problem. Wayne took her to the hospital twice
between Christmas and New Years and both times the doctors refused to
test her for Covid because of her lack of symptoms. As her condition
worsened, their daughter insisted she try another hospital, and Barbara
was quickly tested and admitted. She is still on oxygen, according to
her daughter, but is able to get around for now with a walker.
Blackfords (pictured in 1983 and again more recently) have served
several terms on the Roundalab board of directors. They are also one of
six teaching couples currently named as Roundalab mini-lab clinicians,
qualified to put on weekend seminars under the Roundalab name. She was
Roundalab’s Standardization Coordinator for seven years, responsible
for the Roundalab Manual of Standards.
They are the only round dance leaders to have received all three of
Roundalab’s top round dance awards: the Silver Halo Award in 2005 for
service to the round dance activity, the Silver Circle Award in 1998
for service to Roundalab, and the Distinguished Service Award in 1992
for work on the original RAL videotape project. Their phase IV Rainbow
Foxtrot was named to the ICBDA Hall of Fame in 2015, and they were
presented the ICBDA Golden Torch Award in 2010 for contributions to
round dancing over a period of years.
They met in 1959 when Wayne was in the Air Force, married a year later
and were introduced to square dancing in 1964. In a 2003 Roundalab
Journal interview, they admitted they were so enamored with square
dancing that they wore buttons with their fellow square dancers that
read “Stamp Out Rounds.” That changed when they started round dancing
When the local round dance leader in the Jacksonville, FL, area moved
out of the city, the Blackfords were encouraged by Charlie &
Madeline Lovelace to start cueing and teaching. They started the
Sunshine Sweetheart Club in 1975, taught three nights a week, and
formed a demo team called The Reflections that performed at several
national square dance conventions and other festivals around the
Southeast. They took up part-time residence in Mesa in 1991 and began
teaching there. Wayne owned an auto repair shop, Barbara was his
bookkeeper until he retired that business in 1997.
part of Roundalab’s onetime Roundalab Teaching Coaches (RTC) program,
seeing their mission to help educate other teachers. They also were
staff for six years on the East Coast Leaders College with Ralph &
Joan Collipi, a one-week training program for new round dance leaders.
They believed it is important for all teachers to continue their
education, and they worked with their own coaches regularly. Their
philosophy—printed in the Round Dancer Magazine of October 1983 when
they were that month’s Kover Kids—was “You can never know it all and
you can always learn something from everyone.”
From a club
newsletter, February 2021,
in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, April 2021. Find a DRDC Finch archive here.