April 18: Zachariah Deminieu Blackistone, Jr. (1982)
Upon the death of Zachariah “Zeddie” Blackistone in 1982 at age 111, The Washington Post concluded an editorial on him with this, “After all this time, it is an understatement, of course, to say that Mr. Blackistone will be missed in this town. But the countless pleasant memories he brought to so many will be remembered with lasting appreciation.” Blackistone was a descendant of a family that arrived with the first English settlers in St. Mary’s County, Maryland in 1634. He was born at Charlotte Hall, MD and while a youth, his mother urged him to take a riverboat to Washington and obtain a government job. While looking for work at the old Central Market in downtown Washington, he met Madame de Wattville, the name of an exquisite rose. Blackistone was so enthralled with the beauty of the flower that he made the decision on the spot to become a florist.
In 1898, with $10, Blackistone rented a store on F Street for his florist business and afterwards expanded to other locations. Mr. Blackistone worked seven days a week, except when he was out of town until 1976, when he moved into a retirement home. In an interview with The Washington Post in 1952, Blackistone said, “The sentiment of flowers is what makes them unique. They say more and mean more than anything else in the world.” Blackistone reported to work every day at 7:30am, except on Sundays when he could be found at Epiphany’s 8:00am worship service. For his 105th birthday, Epiphany’s choir did a special presentation of Haydn’s Creation in honor of the church’s senior communicant. Following his death, Zachariah Blackistone’s funeral was held at Epiphany before his interment at Rock Creek Cemetery.