July 17, 1926 - March 16, 2020
Erwin George Blankenmeister, known as Bo, was born in St. Louis, Missouri on July 17, 1926. His great-grandparents had immigrated from Trier, Germany in 1851 and settled in Missouri. The Blankenmeister family name is rare and distinguished as there are very few other Blankenmeisters in the United States. His father, Arthur, who owned a glassware company in St. Louis, married Hertha Rink and had a daughter, Ilsa, and son, Erwin, who was named after Arthur’s Masonic Lodge.
Erwin grew up in St. Louis, the “Best Sports City” in America, playing cork-ball, baseball and other playground sports, while also attending many professional baseball and hockey games, cementing his lifelong love of sports. Graduating from Beaumont High School in 1944, Bo started Washington University in St. Louis studying mechanical engineering. The Dean of the Engineering School wouldn’t write a letter to keep him in school until the end of the semester, so he was drafted that December during the Battle of the Bulge and sent to Ft. Hood, Texas for infantry replacement training. By the time he completed his basic training, World War II was over in Europe so he was sent as a combat medic to the Philippines and then Korea with the 40th Infantry Division of the California National Guard to occupy and disarm the Japanese traveling up and down the peninsula. After the division was deactivated, he was reassigned to the 29th General Hospital as a trainee X-ray technician at the Japanese School of Mines outside of Seoul.
He returned to the states in December 1946 on a crowded troop ship and enrolled in the School of Mines in Rolla, Missouri, receiving his B.S. in Electrical Engineering in May 1949. In 1947, Bo met Carolyn Griser, who attended the University of Missouri, Columbia. A group of girls from Columbia were invited to a party at the Rolla Kappa Alpha fraternity house since the college didn’t have any women students. They continued their long distance dating until graduation. They married on August 5, 1950 on the lawn in front of Carolyn’s home at Meyerdale Farm, southeast of Oregon, Missouri. They lived in Houston for 9 years and briefly in the Chicago area before settling in Dallas, Texas where he was a District Manager for Burdick Corporation, selling medical electronics equipment, covering six Southwestern states until he retired in 1988.
Bo and Carolyn were active in the Lovers Lane United Methodist Church Adult Forum Sunday School for about 25 years, while Bo served as President, Treasurer and Social Committee head. They were both honored with the church’s “Heritage Award” for their 50 years of service and membership. His other community service included Golden Kiwanis, Boy Scouts and baseball/soccer coach and a Sparkman Community Club board member. Bo held a membership in the John L. De Grazier Masonic Lodge where he was Master of the Lodge, Secretary, Scottish Rite, York Rite, Hella Shrine, (working the bucket brigade) and was Hella North Shrine Club President. Bo received the Golden Trowel award and the Knight Commander Court of Honor, receiving both the Red Cap and the White Cap.
Bo learned about the art of woodturning on a lathe from his Dad and enjoyed many hours in retirement making bowls, gavels, signs and pens throughout his life for the United Methodist Women’s Market Place, fellow Masons, family and friends. He and his “Mudder” wrote many clever humorous poems over their lives to each other, family, neighbors and their friends for holidays, birthday and for just for fun. He enjoyed reading, watching baseball and football (especially the Cowboys), making balsa wood model airplanes, volunteering at Dallas Shared Ministries and dancing in the Swingin’ Saints Square Dance Club. He and Carolyn traveled extensively visiting all 50 states and even met his relatives in Trier, Germany. Several years ago, Bo was privileged to go to Washington D.C. on a veteran’s “Honor Flight” for his WWII military service. They also spent time with the family restoring Carolyn’s 1800’s family homestead in northwest Missouri.
Bo is predeceased in death by his wife Carolyn, sister Ilsa, daughter-in-law Shelley and grandson Brandon and survived by his children: Debby (Ken) Phillips of Riverside California, Paul (Linda) of West Linn, Oregon, Gary (Tricia) of Frisco, Texas and four grandchildren: Jenn (Rob) Foskett of Boulder, Colorado, Chris (Diana) Phillips of Riverside, California, Brian (Heather) Blankenmeister of Breckenridge, Colorado and Benjamin Blankenmeister of Boston, Massachusetts and five great-grandchildren: Ryland and Scarlett Foskett, Hadley and Audrey Blankenmeister and Connor Phillips.
Memorials may be made to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, 2222 Welborn St., Dallas, TX 75219.
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