On the morning of Wednesday, September 25, a group of 23 individual’s met at Bear River as the sun rose shining over them. These individuals were set with a mission to place a permanent memorial marker for late Amador County Sheriff Ken Blake, who suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 46 on Sunday November 12, 1995 while bear hunting in the El Dorado National Forest.
The group consisted of members of the Amador Sheriff’s Office, Amador County Search and Rescue, American Legion Ambulance, Jackson Police Department, Amador CHP and community members. Family members Lucia Blake (wife) and Morgan Blake (daughter) joined the group, which was led by Amador County Sheriff’s Sergeant Ryan Gillaspie and Deputy Matt Girton.
The group traveled 8 miles on ATV’s before hiking 1.2 miles through chest high deer brush, climbing over down trees and boulders in the sweltering heat, occasionally stepping over fresh bear scat and getting stung by wasps, to reach Ken Blake’s final resting place.
Upon arrival at the approximate area, the family determined the final placement and the crew got to work prepping the placement of the memorial. A prayer was led by Gillaspie as hawks soared above the group in a gentle breeze.
This new cross replaces the original wooden cross that was vandalized and gives family and friends of Ken Blake an opportunity to pay their respects overlooking the Mokelumne River.
Ken Blake was a well-known county man, who enjoyed serving the people of Amador County. When he wasn’t policing the county, he’d be out shoeing horses or writing poetry. Ken loved to sing. He enjoyed the outdoors and was an avid hunter. On the morning of Sunday, November 12, 1995, he joined friend Dale Mayfield along with his son Martin Blake to hunt bear in the Salt Springs area. Unfortunately, several hours into the hunting trip, Ken Blake suffered a fatal heart attack. Amador County was saddened with the loss of its young Sheriff.
Sheriff Ken Blake was born in Livermore, California, where he started his law enforcement career in 1978 with the Oakland Police Department. In 1979, he was hired by the Amador County Sheriff’s Office as a patrol deputy. In 1985, Ken was hired by the Amador County District Attorney’s Office. In 1991, he ran for Sheriff and won a close race. In 1994 he ran unopposed.
Jake Tollett of the Jackson Police Department and grandson of Dale Mayfield started the Ken Blake memorial project with special thanks to Jackson Police Officer’s Association for purchasing the engraved metal cross, Any and All Welding for the donation of the steel of the cross, Marlin and River Smith of Amador Welding for welding of the cross, and Jim and Bobbie Laughton of Laughton Ranch for providing lunch and beverages to the volunteers.