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Blenko president credited with saving company dies

Walter Blenko

Walter Blenko greeting collectors on June 17, during the West Virginia Birthday Piece sale.

HUNTINGTON Officials with Blenko Glass Company in Milton this week are mourning the loss of Walter J. Blenko Jr., the man they credit for rescuing the company from bankruptcy earlier this decade.

Blenko, 93, the company’s president, died Sunday at his home in Pittsburgh.

“Had it not been for him stepping in, there would not be a Blenko Glass,” said Vice President Dean Six.

Walter Blenko Jr. became president in 2008, and was instrumental in bringing the company out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011.

The Blenko family and company have been a mainstay of Milton since 1921. The company’s glass products have been admired, collected and displayed around the world. It is seen in homes and museums, and West Virginia collectors are especially passionate about the pieces created for the state’s birthday each June.

Walter Blenko Jr. was a grandson of the company’s founder.

“He will be remembered for his dedication to the company and town of Milton,” Six said.

The well-being of the town and its residents was always a great concern to the Blenkos, considered a sacred trust to the family, Six said.

Blenko will continue to be a family-owned and operated company, Six said. The board of directors will have to meet and select a successor, but that timetable has not been set. Until then, operations will continue as normal.

After leaving the U.S. Army as a combat infantryman in Europe, Walter Blenko Jr. went to Carnegie Institute of Technology, now Carnegie Mellon University, and graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1950. He then went to the University of Pittsburgh, receiving a law degree in 1953.

Before becoming president of the glassmaker, Walter Blenko Jr. was a lawyer, specializing in intellectual property law.

Ron Hinkle, a glass artist in Buckhannon, expressed his sympathies via Facebook, saying “His enthusiastic personality and the signature bow ties and true gentlemanly ways that permeated from him will be greatly missed. The short time that I worked for Mr. Blenko, he became a true friend and I thought of him as a father figure.”

Funerals for Saturday, August 24, 2019

Barron, Dennis - 11 a.m., Airborne Church, Martinsburg.
Baylor, Elizabeth - 1 p.m., Snodgrass Funeral Home, South Charleston.
Bonds Jr., Patrick - 1 p.m., King of Glory International Ministries, Charleston.
Burgess, Corey - 5 p.m., Aldersgate United Methodist Church.
Burns, Helen - 11 a.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation, Inc., Grantsville.
Caldwell, Gary - 6 p.m., Long & Fisher Funeral Home, Sissonville.
Casto, Carroll - 1 p.m., Raynes Funeral Home, Eleanor.
Casto, Roger - 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Winfield.
Duty, Fred - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.
Fisher, Bernard - 2 p.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.
Gwinn, Lloyd - Noon, Church of Christ, Craigsville.  
Habjan, Nathan - 1 p.m., Wilson-Smith Funeral Home, Clay. 
Hall, Daniel - Noon, Witcher Baptist Church.
Hinkle, Ethel - Noon, Church of Christ, Craigsville.  
Hoffman, Bruce - 2 p.m., Foglesong - Casto Funeral Home, Mason.  
Kinder, Siegel - 1 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.
Kyler, Virgil - 11 a.m., Pleasant Grove Cemetery, Reedy.
Palmer, William - 1 p.m., Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home, Charleston. 
Raynes Sr., Steven - 1 p.m., Tyree Funeral Home, Oak Hill.
Truman, James - 2 p.m., Newton Baptist Church, Newton.
Turner, Keith - Noon, Full Gospel Assembly,  Huntington. 
Webb, Antoinette - 11 a.m., SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Oak Hill.
Wilson, Greg - Noon, Roach Funeral Home, Gassaway.
Withrow, James - 1 p.m., Cooke Funeral Home Chapel, Cedar Grove.