By Karen Andrew
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Retired General Electric Aircraft Engines executive and community leader John W. Blanton was one of the original members of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, and its president in 1973-79.
Colleagues described him as instrumental in resurrecting Queen City Metro. He fought to acquire funding through tax increases in the late 1970s-early 1980s, a battle that included a press conference in August 1980 in which he debated the issues with then-Cincinnati Mayor J. Kenneth Blackwell, who opposed tax increases.
"I have never served on a board with a man I respected more," said SORTA board President Marion D. Jett in a 1980 Cincinnati Enquirer article.
"Both his abilities and judgment on the subject of transit are without parallel in my knowledge."
Mr. Blanton, of West Chester, died Wednesday at University Hospital. He was 81.
Born in 1922 to John O. and Carolyn Blanton of Louisville, he graduated from Purdue University in 1943 with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering.
He married Corinne Jones of Mississippi in 1943.
He worked for Bell Aircraft Corp. (1943-45 and 1950-56) and Frederick Flader Inc.(1945-50), both in Buffalo N.Y., in research and development of gas turbines and rocket engines.
At Frederick Flader, he was chief thermodynamics engineer and chief of fluid dynamics, directing the aero and thermodynamic design of advanced jet engine concepts.
In 1956, he joined GE in Evendale, where he held a succession of engineering and management positions of increasing responsibility in advanced engine programs.
"John was a very brilliant engineer, he had a great career at GE," said family friend and GE co-worker Robert Dorsey of West Chester.
Mr. Dorsey said he and Mr. Blanton, godfather to his third child, enjoyed attending football games between Purdue and Mr. Dorsey's alma mater, Ohio State.
Mr. Blanton was named general manager of GE's Aircraft Engine Field Programs in 1974 and coordinated marketing efforts for GE propulsion products.
From 1980 to 1982, he was general manager of Commercial Advanced Engines and Technical Programs. He retired in 1982.
In 1981, he received GE's Gerald L. Phillippe Award for distinguished public service and in 1991, he was inducted into GE Aircraft Engine's Propulsion Hall of Fame.
Mr. Blanton served as president of the Urban League Board of Greater Cincinnati, chairman of the Cincinnati-Dayton Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and was a member of the Ohio Governor's Coordinating Council on Drug Abuse.
He also served on a national EPA air pollution control advisory committee and a Department of Defense special study team.
He was also the keynote speaker at the First International Symposium on Air-Breathing Engines held in France in 1972.
Mr. Blanton served as a member of the boards of the Community Chest, Cerebral Palsy, The Beechwood Home and the Cincinnati Zoo.
He served as a director of Health Careers Association and Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation as well as vice president of the Daniel Beard Council, Boy Scouts of America, in 1974.
He was recognized by Purdue University for his continuing service with several awards, including the Old Masters Program in 1968, Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award in 1973, and as a member of the Engineering Dean's Visiting Committee from 1976-79.He was a member of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Evanston.
Survivors include his wife of 60 years; a son, John W. Jr., M.D. of New Haven, Conn; and two grandchildren.
The visitation will be 10 a.m. to noon Monday , followed immediately by the funeral services, both at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 1809 Rutland Ave., Evanston.
Memorials: Beechwood Home, 2150 Pogue Ave., Cincinnati, OH, 45208 or St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 1809 Rutland Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45207.
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