Longtime Houston philanthropist, civic leader and businessman Jack Blanton dies at 86

Jack Blanton, 86, died at his vacation home in Galveston on Saturday, December 29, 2013 (Courtesy photo)
December 29, 2013 3:34:39 PM PST
Longtime Houston philanthropist and oil industry executive Jack S. Blanton Sr. died this weekend at age 86.

Blanton's family tells us he passed away peacefully Saturday at his vacation home in Galveston.

Blanton was born in Shreveport and raised in Houston where he graduated from Lamar High School. He then went on to earn degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and UT Law School.

Blanton was president and CEO of Scurlock Oil Company from 1958 to 1983, one of the largest midstream energy companies in America at the time. He served on the board of directors of Texas Commerce Bank, Southwestern Bell Telephone, Pogo Producing Co., Baker Hughes, Ashland Oil Co., Gordon Jewelry, Quanex Corporation and Burlington Northern Railroad.

Blanton was an active civic leader in Houston and the state of Texas. In 1990, he was named chairman of the board of trustees of the Houston Endowment, the largest philanthropic foundation in Texas. He took the endowment, which was founded by Jesse Jones, from $400 million to over $1 billion in assets while under his stewardship.

A partial list of his other leadership positions includes St. Luke's United Methodist Church; the Board of Trustees of Houston Methodist Hospital for 40 years; his alma mater The University of Texas where he was an undergraduate history major, a Southwest Conference Tennis Champion in men's doubles, received the Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Santa Rita Award, served as Chairman of the Board of Regents, President of the Ex Students Association, and where the Blanton Museum of Art bears his name; The Greater Houston Partnership where he was board chair and recipient of the Man of the Year award; Board member of The Harris County Hospital District; M.D. Anderson Hospital Board of Visitors; Board member of The LBJ Foundation and President of The Scurlock Foundation just to name a few.

Some of the institutions that have honored him include The Woodrow Wilson Institute's Award for Corporate Leadership and the Salvation Army. In 2002, The University of St. Thomas bestowed him with The Ethical Leadership in Action Award, which stated, "Throughout a half century of leadership in business and civic activities, Jack Blanton consistently made wise and moral choices that have influenced a generation of new leaders. Over time the moral compass, a consistency of high purpose that developed in this man, and his manner changed the face of institutions in Houston and has had a lasting effect on corporate ethics."

In an online biography of the former regent and Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient, UT says Blanton "devoted his life to the State of Texas."

"From his father, Blanton learned that being involved is a lot more fun than being on the sidelines," the biography reads. "Few have been more involved, or contributed more. To schools and libraries, museums and orchestras, to charitable organizations and hospitals, civic and religious groups, Blanton has given tirelessly of himself."

Sen. Rodney Ellis reacted to Blanton's passing on Facebook, stating: " I am saddened to learn of the passing of Jack Blanton, one of Texas' great leaders over the past half century and someone I'm proud to call my friend. He dedicated his time, effort, and knowledge to the improvement of the state and Houston, and we're all better for it. Jack provided an example of what it truly means to be a civic leader. He'll be missed dearly."

In a statement Sunday, his family said, "He not only gave his time but also his resources by giving generously to the community. He would work with anyone to build a better community and to meet the needs of the underserved. But above all of his many accomplishments he was most proud of his wonderful family: his devoted wife Ginger, his three children, his three step-children, and their spouses, 13 grand children, and 16 great grand children. His love for them was unconditional and extravagant, and he lived out his Christian faith every day of his life."

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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