In Loving Memory
May 3, 1947 – August 9, 2014
Dr. James Anthony Blanton – affectionately known as Tony, Coach Blanton, Coach B, Dr. Blanton, Doc and Big T – passed away peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, August 9, 2014 in Fairhope, AL after many years of battling ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Born May 3, 1947 in Thomaston, GA, he spent his childhood in Thomaston, GA and Charleston, SC. He graduated from St. Andrew’s Parish High School in Charleston, SC where he was honored with the Outstanding Service Award and named Permanent Team Captain of the football team. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Baptist College at Charleston (now Charleston Southern University), having served as the Student Body President for two years. He completed his Masters degree in Political Science at the University of South Carolina and earned his Doctor of Education from Delta State University, defending his thesis in Curriculum and Instruction. He served in the United States Navy aboard U.S.S. Sampson (DDG-10) and was later active in the United States Navy Reserve.
Dr. Blanton was beloved by his students, athletes, colleagues and friends. A passionate educator, he inspired his students to excel and to think critically. As a coach, he developed individual skills, taught sportsmanship, and encouraged teamwork, leading many of his teams to conference and state championships – football, basketball, baseball, track, cross country, tennis, and golf. Never giving up on a student or an athlete, Dr. Blanton served selflessly as a teacher, coach, mentor and administrator over four decades at schools across the Southeast: James H. Hammond Academy in Columbia, SC; May River Academy in Bluffton, SC; Pillow Academy in Greenwood, MS; Washington School in Greenville, MS; Mauldin High School in Greenville, SC; Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, FL; Monroe Academy in Forsyth, GA; Asheville School in Asheville, NC; and lastly North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, GA. Even in the role of headmaster at May River Academy, Washington School and Monroe Academy, Dr. Blanton was still coaching and teaching. He impacted tens of thousands of students in the classroom and on the playing field.
Many summers were spent at Summit Camp and Camp Highlander in North Carolina, and several were spent with students backpacking and camping across the Southeast. In later years, Dr. Blanton facilitated workshops, developed curriculum, and graded essay portions of high school comprehensive exams.
Dr. Blanton received numerous accolades over the years for his professional and civic efforts. Most notably, he was recognized as Teacher of the Year at nearly every school in which he taught. The Presidential Scholars Program honored Dr. Blanton as a Distinguished Teacher in 1989. And he proudly served as the first dedicated middle school administrator at Pine Crest School.
Dr. Blanton was an active member of numerous churches, theater groups, school associations and civic clubs, including Kiwanis Club and Phi Delta Kappa. He served on the boards of the Southern Association of Independent Schools; Delta Center Stage Theater; Washington County Mississippi Red Cross; Greenville Mississippi Junior Achievement; and Trustees of the Greenville (MS) Foundation.
He was predeceased by his parents Oscar Turner Blanton, Jr. and Edith Elizabeth Watson Blanton and nephews Mark Cope and Gregory Cope. He is survived by his wife Susan Richards Blanton of Fairhope, AL, formerly of Greenwood, MS; stepchildren Amanda Jones Smith, Maury Jones Watson, and Christopher Harvey Jones of Fairhope, AL; sister Linda Cope and brother Mike Blanton of James Island, SC; nieces Jennifer Cope, Gwen Blanton, Becky Blanton, and nephew Jeremy Hawkins; and nine grandchildren.
On Sunday, August 17, the family will gather at Eastern Shore Presbyterian Church at 23050 US Highway 98 in Fairhope, AL for visitation at 2pm and a memorial service at 3pm. In addition, honoring his request, his life will be celebrated at a gathering on Saturday, May 2, 2015 in Fairhope, AL. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that gifts be made in his name to any of the schools where he taught or to the Emory ALS Center, 1762 Clifton Road NE, Suite 1400, Atlanta, GA 30322-4001.
Expressions of condolence may be offered at www.hughesfh.com. Arrangements are by Hughes Funeral Home and Crematory, 7951 American Way, Daphne, AL.