Jack Sawtelle Blanton went home to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and entered into eternal joy on Saturday, the 28th of December 2013. His legacy is a life lived in service to others. He loved God, his church, and his family above all else. He also had an amazing capacity to love his neighbor. He cultivated a world full of neighbors. Anyone who ever asked for help from Jack knows that he went beyond the call of duty, doing everything in his power to help anyone in need.
Jack was born on the 7th of December 1927, in Shreveport, Louisiana, to Louise Wynn and William Neal Blanton, the fifth of seven sons. When he was two years old the family moved to Houston, which would be his home for the rest of his life. He graduated from Lamar High School and the University of Texas, earning a degree in History in 1947 and a L.L.B. in 1950. That same year he began his professional career at Scurlock Oil Company.
In 1949 Jack married Laura Lee Scurlock. Together they raised three children: Elizabeth Blanton Wareing, Jack Sawtelle Blanton, Jr., and Eddy Scurlock Blanton. Laura Lee and Jack were devoted to one another and enjoyed 50 years of marriage before her death in 1999. They shared a deep commitment to their family and their community, and were actively involved in both.
After losing Laura Lee, Jack met and married Cindy Davis in 2000. She passed away only 16 months later, early in 2002.
Later in 2002, Jack met Ginger Renfroe at church. They fell in love and married on November 30, 2002. Ginger shared Jack's love of family and eagerly joined him in his many civic endeavors.
Jack Blanton loved the city of Houston and the state of Texas. He demonstrated that love by serving a multitude of institutions that benefited the citizens of Houston and Texas. He was recognized numerous times for his contributions to the city and state.
He actively served on the boards of several heath care institutions including Houston Methodist Hospital where he was a Life Trustee; the Harris County Hospital District; the M.D. Anderson Hospital and the Texas Medical Center.
Jack was devoted to The University of Texas where he not only received his degrees but also was a member of the Texas Cowboys, received the Distinguished Alumnus and Santa Rita Awards, served as Chairman of the Board of Regents, President of the Ex-Students Association, and a board member of the LBJ Foundation. The University's Blanton Museum of Art bears his name.
During his tenure as Chairman of Houston Endowment from 1990 to 2003 he guided the endowment founded by Jesse Jones from $400 million to over $1 billion in assets. Jack also served as Chairman of the Board and was the recipient of the Man of the Year Award of the Greater Houston Partnership. He was also one of the founders of the Houston based Coalition for Mutual Respect. Jack was generous not only with his time but also with his resources giving to the community personally and through the Scurlock Foundation. He would work with anyone to make Houston a better place and was particularly committed to meeting the needs of the underserved.
Jack Blanton was a servant leader in business. He was President and CEO of Scurlock Oil Company from 1958 to 1983, one of the largest midstream energy companies in America at the time, and was its chairman from 1983 until 1988. He also served on the Board of Directors of Texas Commerce Bank, Southwestern Bell Telephone, Pogo Producing Co., Baker Hughes, Ashland Oil Company, Gordon Jewelry, Quanex Corporation and Burlington Northern Railroad.
Although faith, family and community came first, Jack was also passionate about tennis, and he was an accomplished player. Beginning at an early age on the asphalt courts of Albert Sidney Johnston Junior High, over the next 75 years, he competed in city, state and national tournaments winning numerous titles in both boys & men's singles and doubles. Among Jack's most prominent tennis accomplishments, he represented the University of Texas in both singles and doubles and won the 1945 Southwest Conference doubles tennis championship. During Jack's tennis career at UT, he was fortunate to encounter the great Dr. D. A. Penick, who had a profound influence as a coach and mentor to Jack. Some of his favorite tennis experiences included attaining the #1 ranking in the State of Texas Father-Son Doubles with son Eddy in 1977, winning numerous club doubles and singles tennis championships at River Oaks Country Club and the countless doubles matches with his lifelong doubles partner and friend, Howard Startzman. In 1972 Jack co-founded the Osuna Cup, an international amateur competition between Mexico and the United States, and for 42 years played on the United States team. He received the 2002 ITA Tennis Achievement Award in recognition of his outstanding career and contributions to society.
Above everything, Jack loved his family and his family loved him. He is survived by his devoted wife Ginger; his children Elizabeth Wareing and husband Peter, Jack S. Blanton, Jr. and wife Leslie, and Eddy S. Blanton and wife Kelli; grandchildren Laura Wareing Wheless and husband William, Julia Wareing Aldrich and husband Griff, William Blanton Wareing and wife Reed, Mary Catherine Blanton Jones and husband Bailey, Jack Blanton III and wife Claire, Elizabeth Walker Blanton, Allison Blanton Stasney and husband Spencer, Eddy S. Blanton, Jr. and wife Meghan, and Harrison Scurlock Blanton; and great-grandchildren Elizabeth, Billy, Jack, Madeline, and Robert Wheless; Mary Louise, Annie, Aubrey, and Peter Wareing; Scott and Ford Aldrich; Charlie and Wynn Stasney; and Beau, Cameron and Eddy Blanton III. Also surviving Jack are Ginger's children and grandchildren, Tracie Renfroe, Amber Alonso, and Avery Grace Alonso; Renee Renfroe and Andrew Hepler; and Tracy, Jamie, Alex, and Hannah Renfroe; and faithful friends Rose Cantrell, Maggie Smith, Emily Cooksey, Marshall Dora, and Sylvia Hernandez.
Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from five o'clock in the afternoon until eight o'clock in the evening on Friday, the 3rd of January, in the library and grand foyer of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.
A memorial service celebrating Jack's life is to be conducted at eleven o'clock in the morning on Saturday, the 4th of January, in the sanctuary of St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 3471 Westheimer Road in Houston, where Dr. Tom Pace, Senior Pastor, is to officiate. Immediately following, all are invited to greet the family during a reception in the Fellowship Hall.
Prior to the service, the family will have gathered for a private entombment service in the Memorial Mission Mausoleum at Forest Park Westheimer Cemetery in Houston.
In lieu of customary remembrances, the family requests with gratitude that memorial contributions be directed to The Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin, 200 E. Martin Luther King Blvd., Stop D1303, Austin, TX, 78712-1609; Houston Methodist Hospital Neurological Institute, P.O. Box 4384, Houston, TX, 77210; St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 3471 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX, 77027; and/or to Yellowstone Academy, 3000 Trulley St., Houston, TX, 77004.
For someone as active in civic affairs and successful in business, Jack Blanton loved the simple things in life. He loved spending time with his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, especially at his summer home on the banks of the Guadalupe River in Hunt, Texas. He took his entire family to Hawaii for his 80th birthday. He liked hot weather and actually enjoyed playing tennis in the heat of the day, leaving the court drenched in sweat. He loved going to Galveston. He loved Blue Bell vanilla ice cream, blueberry pancakes smothered in a swimming pool of maple syrup, banana pudding, watermelon and Dr. Pepper. He loved baseball and was a St. Louis Cardinals fan early in life because the Houston Buffs were a St. Louis farm team before the Colt 45s came to Houston. Jack took his wife Ginger to an Astros game on their first date. He was famous for leaving parties early to get home to see the 10 o'clock news. He never did things slowly; he walked fast, was a manic lane hopper in traffic and would always figure out a way to park close to the football stadium for a big game. He was fun, famously waking his kids up on the weekends by coming in their rooms and saying, "It's a new day in which to excel!" He loved a good joke and would wear silly hats to entertain his great grandkids. He never took himself seriously, except on the tennis court where he gave no quarter. He competed fairly but always to win. He was loved by many and we will all miss him.