Francis Rawdon Blankenstein Jr.
Aug. 24, 1927 – Aug. 2, 2018
NATCHEZ — Services for Francis Rawdon Blankenstein Jr., 91, of Natchez, who died Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, at his residence, will be 11 a.m. today at Jefferson Street United Methodist Church with the Rev. William Barksdale officiating, assisted by the Rev. Joan Gandy of First Presbyterian Church and the Rev. R. Jefferson Coker, formerly of Natchez.
Burial will follow at the Natchez City Cemetery in the A.V. Davis lot under the direction of Laird Funeral Home.
Visitation will be from 9:30 a.m. until service time today at the church.
Mr. Blankenstein was born Aug. 24, 1927, in Natchez, the son of Francis Rawdon Blankenstein and Ethel Schleicher Blankenstein.
He was a 1945 graduate of Natchez High School, having achieved the highest GPA of any student in the then 100-year history of the school. He attended Auburn University for one year, transferring to Louisiana State University where he received a bachelor of science degree in accounting. While at L.S.U., he was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Beta Alpha Psi and Beta Gamma Sigma honor societies and of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.
An ordained Elder of the Presbyterian Church, he was one of the founders of New Covenant Presbyterian Church. He was a member of Jefferson Street United Methodist Church and a Gideon.
Blankenstein was chairman emeritus of F.R. Blankenstein Company, the family business which was begun in 1893, by his grandfather and has operated under that name since 1939. He spearheaded the growth of this business from its wholesale grocery beginnings into an industrial and institutional supply house that today includes water treatment, swimming pools, and restaurant and janitorial equipment. He was a charter member of the Natchez Restaurant Association and a former director of the Mississippi Restaurant Association, which in 1993, honored him as Mississippi’s Purveyor of the Year.
His interest in things scientific led him to seek innovative methods of resolving problems. This was particularly useful in his multifaceted business. He was always intrigued by guns and the science of ballistics and spent a number of hours researching and experimenting with ammunition and gun powder. He enjoyed hand loading and target shooting with pistols and rifles and kept intricate records of the results. He was an enthusiastic life member of the American Rifle Association. He also studied cameras and photography. In his younger years, he spent many hours boating on the Mississippi River. He enjoyed sports, especially playing tennis.
Blankenstein was a past member of the board of directors of Natchez First Federal Savings and Loan, the Natchez Chamber of Commerce and the Natchez Rotary Club where he was a Paul Harris Fellow and chaired the scouting and youth committee for a number of years. He was a former member of the school board of Trinity Episcopal Day School and the advisory boards of the Natchez Children’s Home and Britton and Koontz First National Bank. Other civic involvements included membership in the Historic Natchez Foundation, the Natchez Historical Society, the Mississippi Historical Society, the Santa Claus Committee, the Natchez Humane Society and the Natchez Festival of Music.
Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Katherine Boatner Blankenstein; two daughters, Vidal D. Blankenstein of Jackson and Chesney B. Doyle and husband, Marc, of Natchez; two sons, F. Rawdon “Don” Blankenstein III and wife, Loretta, of Vidalia and Boatner A. Blankenstein and wife, Laura, of Brandon; five grandchildren, Katherine B. Cleary and husband, Calder, of Nashville, Tenn., Lillie Vidal Blankenstein of Brandon, Emily Alston Doyle and John Archer Doyle of Natchez, and Julia Grace Blankenstein of Vidalia.
Pallbearers will be Dr. Malcolm Packer, and the Messrs. Ayres Haxton, Ayres Bradford, Steve Ayres, Vidal Davis, Rob Coker, Jonathan Hungerford, Hal Jennings and Hall Ratcliffe.
The family wishes to thank Dr. Kenneth Stubbs, Dr. Brad LeMay and Dr. Jack Rodriguez and caregivers, Flora Burns, Annie Hargrave, Katisha Lewis, Shelia Promise, Dorothy Shropshire, Patricia Sims, Lurie Thompson, Jane Washington and Stephan Washington for their loving attention and help throughout the years.
The family requests donations, in his memory, be made to Natchez Children’s Services