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William Clifton Blankenstein Jr.

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LOS ANGELES — Private family services for William Clifton Blankenstein Jr., who died Tuesday, April 14, 2015, at his residence with some members of his immediate family by his bedside, were held in Los Angeles.04:18 Wm.CBlankensteinJr. obitpic

Mr. Blankenstein was born in Natchez in 1922, to a prominent, well known Natchez family. He was the son of W.C. Blankenstein Sr. and Laura Junkin Blankenstein. He was the grandson of E.W. Blankenstein of the historic Blankenstein wholesale grocers on Franklin Street.

His cousin on his mother’s side was Mississippi House of Representatives Speaker, John R. Junkin, of Natchez. His cousin, F.R. Blankenstein Jr., is a well known business man in Natchez.

As a youth, he attended St. Mary Basilica and was a 1941 graduate of Natchez High School.

At the beginning of World War II, he took employment in Beaumont, Texas. Even, as a teenager, he quickly rose to the rank of leading man ship-fitter on naval destroyers, due to his knowledge of blueprint reading and drafting.

He then was accepted to the U.S. Army Air Corps Officers Cadet Program and was trained as a pilot. The Air Corps also provided his schooling as an engineer and taught at Clemson University in South Carolina.

After WWII, Mr. Blankenstein returned to Natchez for a number of years and ran a poultry farm and business in Pine Ridge.

Afterward, he worked for Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans. He was the design lead for the construction of naval ships and proceeded to advance in their engineering department.

In the early 1960s, an opportunity for a career advancement brought Mr. Blankenstein and his family to Los Angeles and the booming aerospace industry.

Over the years, he served as the lead engineer on the hydraulics systems on numerous aircraft including Rockwells, B-1 Bomber, as well as Seattle Boeings 747 passenger jet.

After retirement, he remained an exceptional artist and produced dozens of portraits, landscapes, as well as modern art paintings.

He was preceded in death by one brother, Frank Edward Blankenstein of Harrahan, La., and one sister, Frances Blankenstein Parks of Knoxville, Tenn.

Survivors include his wife of 67 years, Jimmie Nell McGehee, formerly of Natchez; two sons who were both born in Natchez, Cliff Blankenstein and wife, Jan, and Charles Blankenstein and wife, Cynthia; two sisters, Laura Blankenstein Rushing of Carriere and Carolyn Blankenstein Stuart of Fairhope, Ala.; one brother-in-law, Eugene Stephens McGehee of Vidalia; four grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Mr. Blankenstein always remained a true Southern gentleman. He was proud of his heritage and of his hometown, Natchez.

His family will always remember him with love and respect. He was the pillar of his family, a hard working man and a great provider that possessed a loving attitude on life.