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Obituaries

Robert C. Blount, FBI agent who worked on Alger Hiss spy case

Robert C. Blount

Robert C. Blount, a retired FBI special agent who early in his career was assigned to the Alger Hiss spy case and later spent more than 20 years in the bureau's Baltimore field office, died May 17 of pneumonia at the Blakehurst Retirement Community in Towson.

He was 95.

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The son of Clyde Dudley Blount, a rancher and bank cashier, and Jessie Chaffee Blount, a teacher and homemaker, Robert Chaffee Blount was born in Larned, Kan., and in 1923 moved with his family to Jetmore, Kan., where he graduated in 1939 from Jetmore High School.

After studying at Kansas State University for two years, Mr. Blount transferred to the Naval Academy, where he earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1944.

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"Even though he should have been in the Class of 1945, because of World War II, classes were accelerated and they went all year long. That's why he graduated in 1944," said a son, James R. Blount of Hendersonville, N.C.

Mr. Blount joined the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Bennington in 1944 and for the next two years was assigned to the gunnery department.

The carrier took part early in 1945 in the strikes against Tokyo and the Japanese home islands and also in the Okinawa campaign.

In 1946, Mr. Blount entered the Naval Submarine School in New London, Conn., and after graduation served aboard the submarine USS Torsk as a gunnery and torpedo officer. The Torsk is now anchored in the Inner Harbor.

Discharged in 1947, Mr. Blount began his 29-year career with the FBI as a special agent in Memphis, Tenn.

After being assigned to the bureau's New York City field office, Mr. Blount joined its major-case squad, which was investigating Baltimore-born diplomat Alger Hiss. Mr. Hiss had been accused by then-Rep. Richard M. Nixon of being a spy for the Soviet Union.

Mr. Hiss, who graduated from City College in 1922 and four years later from the Johns Hopkins University, was a 1929 graduate of Harvard Law School. During the early 1930s, he clerked for Supreme Court Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Whittaker Chambers, a Time magazine editor, told a closed-door session of the House Un-American Activities Committee that Mr. Hiss, his wife, Priscilla, and his brother, Donald, had been members of a communist cell in Washington during the 1930s.

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Convicted of perjury in 1950, Mr. Hiss spent 31/2 years in a federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa. He maintained his innocence until his death in 1996.

"My father was very outspoken about the Hiss case and said that [Mr. Hiss] had been very involved with the Russians and was guilty as sin," his son said. "He had conducted wiretaps and said it was clear as a bell that he was guilty."

In 1953, Mr. Blount joined the FBI's Baltimore field office, and from 1967 to 1976, when he retired, he supervised all police training matters for the FBI in Maryland and Delaware.

He was also responsible for firearms training in the Baltimore office, was coordinator for the FBI National Academy, and served as a liaison with law enforcement executives throughout Maryland and Delaware.

"He really couldn't tell me a whole lot about his work. I remember when the phone would ring and he'd say, 'I'll meet you at such and such place,' but wasn't able to tell us where he was going," his son said. "It was just the nature of his job."

From 1976 to 1979, Mr. Blount was a plant security consultant for Procter & Gamble. In 1984, he became the chief investigator with the Medicaid fraud control unit in the office of the Maryland attorney general.

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Mr. Blount worked part time with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Maryland beginning in 1987. He retired in 1991.

He was a member and former historian of the FBI National Academy, and a member and past president of Former Special Agents of the FBI.

Mr. Blount was also a member and past president of Pine Ridge Senior Men's Golf Club and a member of Concordia Lodge No. 13, AF&AM.

A longtime resident of Pot Spring Road in Lutherville, he moved to Blakehurst in 2000. He was an avid gardener and enjoyed playing golf, boating and fishing.

A memorial service will be held at Blakehurst, 1055 W. Joppa Road, at 2 p.m. Saturday.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife of 71 years, the former Margaret Welsh; another son, William J. Blount of Columbia; a daughter, Dorothy Blount Pitt of Belcamp; and four grandchildren.

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frasmussen@baltsun.com


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