Blankenship estate presents contributions

Thursday, October 17, 2002
A $75,000 check from the estate of Jimmy Blankenship was made to Monette First United Methodist Church World Hunger program leaders and earmarked for a contribution to the internationally acclaimed World Hunger program. Ione Brown (center), church World Hunger chairman, accepted the gift from Blankenship estate executor, Devane Baldridge, and Barbara Halsey, estate attorney. Also present were church members (from left) Sonny Wimberley, Millie Wimberley, Jodie Brown and Martha Jane Hout. (Town Crier photo/Nan Snider)

Executors of the estate of Jimmy Blankenship of Monette presented checks on Oct. 10 totaling $135,000 to Buffalo Island Central School, Monette First United Methodist Church and to World Hunger.

Executor of Blankenship's estate, Devane Baldridge, of Monette, and estate attorney, Barbara Halsey, of Jonesboro, met at the BIC campus to present a $50,000 check to Doris Willyerd, guidance counselor, and George Edd Holland, BIC superintendent, to establish the James Gordoon Blankenship Schlarship.

The funds are to be placed in an endowment and the net income therefrom should be used for a scholarship for a student who meets the qualifying criteria to be established by the faculty and administration. Guidelines for the scholarship disbursement will be decided by the BIC Scholarship Committee under the direction of Willyerd.

Following the BIC presentation, Baldridge and Halsey met with officials at the First United Methodist Church to present a second check, for $10,000, to church treasurer, Phyllis Smith.

A third presentation of $75,000 was made to First United Methodist Church World Hunger program leaders, earmarked for a contribution to the internationally acclaimed World Hunger program. Church leaders on hand for the presentation included Ione Brown, program chairman, Jodie Brown, Martha Jane Hout, Millie Wimberley and Sonny Wimberley.

Other Blankenship estate contributions included his home to Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and his farm to Hendrix University in Conway, Blankenship died Dec. 28, 2001 at the home he had shared with his parents, Mary and James G. Blankenship, in Monette.

Blankenship was well known throughout Northeast Arkansas, having been a Monette merchant all his life, an active member of the Monette First United Methodist Church, and a member of the Fine Arts Council of Arkansas.

His parents and grandparents were business people in Monette, owning and operating Blankenship's Hardware and Furniture on Main Street. He was always in the public eye, uptown or about town. Blankenship had become quite a historian, due in part to the fact that he was people-orientated and in the public every day.

After his retirement he remained actively involved in the community, walking every day, visiting and spending time with his friends at the Monette Community Center.

He took pride in his town and worked diligently on Monette's centennial celebration. He served as master of ceremonies for the large centennial program, held on May 27, 2000, in the BIC gymnasium.

Blankenship's cousin, Kelly Farr, read a special tribute to him at his funeral, which read, "Jimmy was born on Jan. 31, 1927, to Mary McKnight Blankenship and James G.Blankenship, in Monette, AR. He graduated from Monette High School in 1944 and entered Southwestern (now Rhodes College), in Memphis, where he obtained a bachelor of arts degree in English. Some of his most treasured friends and memories came from the time he spent there. After graduation, Jimmy worked as a journalist in St. Louis and New York City before returning to Monette to work with his father in the family store. He remained at the store until his retirement.

"Both his love for the Lord and his church were the most important things in his life. He worked dauntlessly in the church sharing his singing and leadership abilities. Jimmy was a certified lay speaker in the United Methodist Church and spoke often in church and community functions. His theatrical and singing talents showed brightly in area plays, shows and community events touching the hearts and minds of those around him.

"Jimmy was a delightful storyteller sharing s tories enthusiastically with his friends and family and the senior citizens he delightedly served.

"Throughout his life, Jimmy set the prime example of that--commitment to the Lord, love, service to others and community, and the bringing of hope, joy and peace to those around him.

"Jimmy touched everyone he came into contact with and left a piece of himself with each one of us. Let us celebrate his life by giving to others the way he joyfully and unselfishly gave to us."

Rev. Gary Wiles closed Blankenship's funeral message by saying, "Jimmy had a perfect heart toward God. He was ready to meet God and did it in a inspiring way. Our church and our town has lost a true patriot."

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