|Birth: ||May 17, 1934|
|Death: ||May 3, 2011|
Beloved Naval ROTC instructor for 20 years at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School in Shawnee Kansas.
Published in Kansas City Star July 3, 2011
Who: Richard Lee Blanton, 76, of Olathe.
When and how he died: May 3 of pancreatic cancer at home.
Early years: All eight children in the Blanton family had an ear for music, and with Richard on the fiddle, several brothers strumming guitar and their mother playing guitar or piano, they had their own band.
He was the kind of brother who walked a little sister to school on the first day of kindergarten and kept an eye on the younger siblings when their mother was at work.
"He taught me to jitterbug, tell jokes and sing with the radio," wrote his sister Rella Heslop.
To help out the family financially, he quit school in the ninth grade and then joined the Navy at age 17.
Several shipmates wanted him in their band, but he had left his fiddle at home. So they persuaded him to get another and he became part of "The Misfits." At ports throughout Japan and the Philippines, they played at just about any club that would have them.
Tying the knot: While on leave, he went to watch his brother perform in a band. He saw a pretty girl, asked her to dance and three weeks later married her. The union lasted 56 years, until his death.
Family man: Gerald Blanton, the youngest of three sons, described his father as stern but fair, a father who allowed his children to learn by their mistakes. When they stumbled, he guided and supported them.
"He was a great dad," Gerald said. "When you got in trouble, you got in trouble, but he would also listen and guide you in the right direction. He was a very extraordinary man."
As a rebellious teenager looking to drive his father nuts, Gerald grew his hair long and pierced an ear. His father never nagged him about his looks. Instead, he said Gerald was the prettiest daughter he ever had.
Fiddlin' around: Dale Endicott plays guitar and sings with Kansas Old Time Fiddlers, Pickers and Singers. That's where he met Richard, who served as the organization's president for years.
As members of the Spring Hill chapter, they kept toes tapping to songs from the '30s, '40s and '50s. Along with two other musicians, they performed regularly at the American Legion and the VFW.
"He was a fine musician as well as a great singer," Dale said. "He was a great person all the way around."
Richard played by ear, and that must have served as training ground for becoming a good listener.
"He was able to see through somebody's troubles, find the good and bring it out of them, whether it was his kids, his students or his friends," Gerald said.
A man of honor: After retiring from the Navy, he obtained a GED and became Shawnee Mission Northwest High School's Navy Junior ROTC instructor.
In high school, Lisa Phillipe West was a bit unathletic, so she signed up for ROTC. It got her out of physical education class. What kept her there for three years was her teacher.
Richard taught students how to be leaders and take responsibility for their actions.
"He was universally admired and respected," said Lisa, who graduated from Shawnee Mission Northwest 30 years ago.
Richard's ROTC class visited naval bases, marched in parades and went on class trips. He always chaperoned.
"He used to say that you get out of kids what you put into kids," Lisa said. "He referred to us as his kids, and each of us felt that we were special to him."
That feeling persisted over the years. Lisa and her classmates always included Richard and his wife when they gathered for a picnic or met for dinner at a restaurant.
Survivors include: Hiswife of 56 years, three sons, two daughter-in laws, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren
Note: KOREA, VIETNAM
Leavenworth National Cemetery
Plot: Section 52, Row 16, Site 12.
Created by: J Spencer
Record added: May 04, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 69324369
Remembering our beloved Chief on his angel day.|
Added: May. 3, 2012
May you never be forgotten for your service to our Country and for the sacrifices you made. Rest in peace and God Bless you and your family.|
Added: Dec. 17, 2011
Added: Dec. 16, 2011
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