Father Michael Blackwell, a decorated U.S. Navy veteran and retired priest who served the the Archdiocese of Washington for more than 40 years, died June 14. He was 81 years old and a resident of Carroll Manor.

Born Feb. 11, 1933 in Cleveland, Father Blackwell attended school there until he entered the Society of Jesus's Chicago Province in 1950. In 1957, he joined the U.S. Navy. During his 13 years of service, he served in the Vietnam War and earned 10 combat medals and citations; achieved the rank of lieutenant commander and served as a social aid at the White House for Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.After leaving the Navy, he entered the Pope John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Mass., and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington in 1973.

His first assignment was as a parochial vicar at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Two years later, he was named parochial vicar at St. Catherine Labouré Parish in Wheaton. In 1976, he was named parochial vicar at St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Camp Springs. In 1978, he was appointed parochial vicar at St. Aloysius Parish in Leonardtown, and later that same year, was named to the same post at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Silver Spring.

In 1980, Father Blackwell was named parochial vicar at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Washington. He served there for five years until his 1985 appointment as parochial vicar at Holy Redeemer Parish in Kensington. Later in 1985, he was named parochial vicar at St. Mary of the Mills Parish in Laurel. He served in that post until 1991 when he was named parochial administrator of the parish.

In 1993, Father Blackwell was names parochial vicar at St. Mary Parish in Landover Hills, and retired there as senior priest in 2003. After his retirement, he served as senior priest at Resurrection Parish in Burtonsville.

Outside of his parish duties, Father Blackwell served in prison ministry at the Detention Center in Upper Marlboro, as chaplain to the Maryland Knights of Columbus and as chaplain to Divorced and Separated Catholics of the Archdiocese of Washington. He was also a counselor at St. Luke Institute, a Silver Spring-based center treating clergy and men and women who serve the Church.

Father Blackwell is survived by one brother, Dennis; and two sisters, Patricia Blackwell and Kathleen Gafney.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl celebrated Father Blackwell's Funeral Mass on June 20 at Resurrection Parish. Internment was in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Silver Spring. contributions may be made in Father Blackwell's memory to the St. Vincent de Paul Society.