Until just a few weeks ago, when his cancer took greater hold, musician Oklin Bloodworth still was doing what he loved best: leading scores of children in joyful song and dance.
The singer and musician, a beloved face at countless children’s events throughout the central San Joaquin Valley since the early 1990s, had his final performance at the end of last month at First 5 Madera County.
Mr. Bloodworth died Sunday at the age of 66 at his Madera home of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that attacks the lymph nodes.
When the cancer started to weaken his voice, he kept performing anyway, mixing in lip-syncing to recordings of his songs. The retired school music teacher wrote and recorded hundreds of songs, which can be found on iTunes and Amazon. He regularly performed at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, Fresno County libraries, school assemblies, birthday parties, and Fresno’s Fashion Fair Mall for a Kids Club sponsored by National Geographic.
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“Wherever he was, he just brought this energy,” said Jordan Escobar, event coordinator for the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. “He made everyone smile just by smiling at them. He really had a love for music and a passion for people.”
I think the people that have positive and encouraging and inspiring attitudes really change the world, and he was one of those.
Jordan Escobar, event coordinator at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo
And his performances were genuine, said brother Jesse Bloodworth of Fresno.
“He’s not like Elmo, where he had to wear a costume, and not like Pee-wee Herman, where he had to act dumb,” his brother said. “He was just himself, and the kids loved him just the way he was … for being real.”
Through his music, Jesse Bloodworth said, his brother encouraged people to love and accept one another.
He loved the world and he loved all people.
Brother Jesse Bloodworth
After Mr. Bloodworth was diagnosed with cancer in February 2015, he endured 10 months of chemotherapy. The cancer returned twice, and he decided to stop the treatments. He was raising money to go to a Gerson Therapy Institute clinic in Mexico, which aims to cure cancer by saturating the body with nutrient-rich foods.
He started hospice care a little more than a week ago after spending a few days in the hospital. His final days were filled with a procession of friends, family and children who stopped by to share favorite memories and sing him songs, many that he had written.
“He always had a positive thing to say, and he really always had a smile on his face,” said friend John Kilburn of North Fork. “He always gave a lot of love and care for everyone around him.”
People you touch with kindness and respect, they will remember that for the rest of their lives, and so will I.
Oklin Bloodworth during an interview for The Bee in July
Born: Jan. 13, 1950, in Fort Worth, Texas
Died: Sept. 11, 2016
Occupation: Children’s musician
Survivors: Son Wayne Leroy of Sanger; brothers William and Jesse Bloodworth; sister-in-law Linda Bloodworth, all of Fresno; grandsons Mychal Bloodworth of Reedley and Khrystofer Wayne of Madera; and numerous extended family members.
Graveside service: 3 p.m. Sept. 23, at Madera Cemetery, 1301 Roberts Ave., Madera.