William A. Blankenship Jr., who served with the Army Corps of Engineers in the Pacific Theater during World War II and later became an Air Force reservist and salesman, died Monday at Oak Crest Village in Parkville from complications from heart disease. He was 101.
He was born in Baltimore at home on Calvert Street, where he was also raised. He was the son of William A. Blankenship Sr., a Baltimore & Ohio Railroad clerk, and Lucy Hewes Blankenship, a schoolteacher and homemaker.
He attended Polytechnic Institute and later earned his General Education diploma, and after working several different jobs, enlisted in the Army in 1942.
Mr. Blankenship served during World War II in the Pacific Theater and was stationed in the Philippines and Papua, New Guinea. He was discharged in 1946 with the rank of major.
He then became an Air Force reservist and after 21 years of service retired in 1977 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Mr. Blankenship was employed for years as a salesman and finally treasurer of Heller Bedding, a mattress manufacturing company. He retired in 1982.
The longtime resident of Woodlawn Road in Roland Park, and later Elkridge Estates, was an Italian opera buff, particularly fond of the operas of Giuseppe Verdi.
“He loved taking the train to New York and going to the Metropolitan Opera,” said his daughter, Carol B. Davis of Ruxton. “He was very knowledgeable about Verdi and had a large collection of recordings, tapes and compact discs. That was his big pastime.”
Mr. Blankenship was a communicant of the Episcopal Church of St. Michael and All Angels, where he had been junior and senior warden and a vestryman.
A resident of Oak Crest Village since 1997, Mr. Blankenship was a former president of the Roland Park Civic League and the Roland Park Pool.
His wife of 51 years, and a childhood friend, the former Lavinia Wyatt, died in 1997.
A memorial service with military honors will be held in the chapel at Oak Crest Village, 8820 Walther Blvd., at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by a son, William A. Blankenship III of Pikesville, and a grandson.