John Alvin Blanton, a well-known and loved local figure across Sampson County, passed away Sunday at the VA Hospital in Fayetteville. He was 74.
Blanton lived a life of service, not just at the local level, but to his state and country. A former county commissioner, Blanton was also a longtime local educator and a proud veteran of the U.S. Army. He came to Sampson County when he was just 17 years old and through the decades served as an educator and principal with Sampson County Schools, including at Charles E. Perry School.
First elected to the Sampson Board of Commissioners as representative of the county’s fourth district in 1996, Blanton would go on to serve four consecutive terms. Health issues in mid-2012 forced him into retirement and he officially stepped down in December 2012 after 16 years in office and more than five decades of service in his beloved county.
In July 2012, during one of his last meetings with commissioners, Blanton encouraged the board to work together and shared what being a Sampsonian has meant to him over the years. Already battling health issues at that time, Blanton said Sampson County and its people meant the world to him.
“I came here in 1957 and I have not regretted it one bit,” an emotional Blanton said at the time. “This is where I met my wife and this is where I stayed, and I am very proud of that. Thank you all for having me in Sampson County and making things so wonderful for me.”
At Blanton’s final board meeting in November 2012, he was honored by his fellow commissioners and county staff for a lifetime of service. Commissioners shared with Blanton just how much they appreciated him, including his colleague Jarvis McLamb, who is now stepping down at the end of this year after the same 16-year stint on the board.
“I appreciate knowing John Blanton, and I believe there’s no other person in Sampson County who as many people know as John Blanton,” McLamb stated, before addressing him specifically. “I think every person in Sampson County knows you personally. Thank you John for what you’ve meant to our county.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121. Follow us on twitter @SampsonInd.