Grayson County TXGenWeb
Woody Blanton

From Ruth Walsh

 
Denison Herald (undated newspaper clipping from private collection -
believed to have been published ca 1950)
   The best way to control crime is to get at it before it happens - by
attacking the causes.
   Woody Blanton, ex-peace officer, war veteran and candidate for Grayson
County Sheriff voiced this opinion from his observation, experience and
training in both military and civilian service.
   "Give youth of a community a wholesome environment, help them develop a
healthy attitude, do something before they become involved in crime.  That
is the way to keep crime from happening, " he says.
   When Blanton's outfit, the 141st Infantry, 36th Division, hit Red Beach
at Salerno, Italy, in 1943, the enemy called out, "Come on wild boys from
Texas."  But Blanton is no wild man, cowboy type.  He features neither a
broad-brimmed Stetson nor high-heeled boots.  This 37-year-old native of
Grayson County wears a business suit and a panama hat.  If he limps a
little, it is due to an old wound in his left leg near the hip, a souvenir
he brought from Southern France.
PROMOTED
   Blanton went into the fight on the Riviera a sergeant and when he came
out of a hospital two months later, he was a first lieutenant.  This came
after he had helped General Walker chase Desert Fox Rommel across Africa and after the long and bitter campaign in Italy.
   "The German intelligence had us spotted before our assault boat hit Red
Beach in the early morning, " said Blanton.  "The hidden enemy shouted
through loud speakers, "Wild boys from Texas, come in and get it, " and we
did.  But it took time, and and during part of that time the Navy was
standing by off shore to take care of us if we could not make it."
FIRST LANDING
   This was the first land of American troops in Europe in World War II.
Blanton recalls the campaign as fighting, pushing, chasing the Germans right
through Rome without stopping except to receive thanks from the welcoming
Italians.  (He got back later for a little sightseeing).
   After his promotion, Blanton was attached for a time to Headquarters Co.,
working with the Military Police Battalion.  He values highly his experience
in handling men in this job.  I was also during this part of his service
that he went through several schools of interrogation, training he found
invaluable later in his work as deputy sheriff.
   While serving with the French Fifth Combat Command, Blanton won the Croix de Guerre, though he mentions the honor reluctantly and then in an off-hand manner.
WORKED AT MILL
   Before joining up in 1941, Blanton had been an employee at a Sherman mill
and had sold coffee.  When victory came in 1945 and he was separated from
military service, he determined to follow the special training and
experience he had had in the Army, in the field of criminal investigation
and peace officer work.
   For a time he was special investigating officer for the Missouri Kansas
and Texas Railway.  In February, 1946, he was appointed Grayson County
deputy sheriff, serving under two administrations and during the last two
years of his tenure as chief deputy.  Since January of last year he has been
in sales work.
BORN IN WHITEWRIGHT
   George Woodrow Blanton was born in Whitewright, a son of Mr. and Mrs.
B.F. Blanton, who later moved to Denison.  After his graduation from Denison
High School in 1932, he studied two years at Paris Junior College before he
got his first job at a Sherman mill.
   He is a church member, is a active in veterans organizations, Boy Scouting, but his chief interest is, as it has been for several years, in criminal investigation and safety work.  He has earned certificates at officers' schools conducted by the Texas A and M College and the State Department of Public Safety.
  "I'm no witch burner, " says Blanton.  "But I believe in common sense law
enforcement, coordinated through united effort of all officers and carefully
kept and studied records.

Sherman Democrat, September 28, 1975, p.1
SHERIFF BLANTON RITES MONDAY
G.W. (Woody) Blanton, 63, Sheriff of Grayson County for 25 years, died
Saturday in Sherman Community Hospital's Intensive care unit where he was
taken last Sunday after suffering a heart attack.
   Known mostly as Woody, Sheriff Blanton was elected in 1950, and had been
unopposed in most elections through most of his ensuing years as sheriff.
   Although he never carried a gun and wore business suits, Sheriff Blanton
held the top law position in the county wearing the traditional western hat
and cowboy boots.
   When he became sheriff, it was the realization of his ambition since
childhood.  He once recalled in a reminiscing mood that, "I wanted to become
an officer like a lot of other kids wanted to be engineers or firemen.  With
me it was a passion.
   The sheriff never had a hobby once explaining that his hobby was his job.
Blanton was born near Whitewright Aug. 8, 1912, the son of the late Mr. and
Mrs. B.F. Blanton.  He attended school in Whitewright and Denison and had a
colorful career in the service during World War II.  He enlisted in the Army
in 1941, and fought in seven battles with the  36th Division  in Africa, Italy, France and Germany.  He was wounded in France, commissioned a second
lieutenant in combat, and rose to captain.  Discharged in 1945, with
numerous medals, he returned to Denison, and served as deputy sheriff in
1946, 1947, and 1949.
   Sheriff Blanton never took a vacation, saying he "liked his job" too
much.
   During his tenure as sheriff, Blanton fought for continued updating of
law enforcement standards, men and equipment.
   He testified before Senator Estes Kefauver's sub-committee during the
probe on black marketing involving babies in 1955, worked to control
increasing crime in the Lake Texoma area, and spearhead many manhunts in
Grayson County solving murders, robberies, and other crimes.
   Blanton was named the state's outstanding sheriff among counties in the
50,000 to 100,000 bracket in 1956 by the Texas Law Enforcement Foundation.
   Sheriff Blanton headed a small force of deputies in the beginning, but
expanded the number to the current staff of 25 men.  Recently, he won
Commissioners Court approval for the addition of a full-time female deputy
matron to the staff.  That appointment had not been filled at his death.
   The sheriff prided himself in the accomplishment of staying above the
national crime percentage in solving cases, but was increasingly concerned
about the upsurge in rural crimes, mostly burglaries.
   He suffered a heart attack, his first, in 1969, and was visited by war-time buddy, the late Audie Murphy, during his convalescence.
   He was back on the job within a few weeks, but on limited activity and a
strict diet, trimming his 6'3", 240-pound stature down to near 200.
   He played end during his football days at Denison High School, and
attended Paris Junior College before joining the army.
   Blanton was a member of the Sheriff's Association, Sherman Optimist Club,
First Assembly of God Church, Denison Lions club and Veterans of Foreign
Wars.
   A bachelor, he resided at 706 West Morgan with his sister, Miss Louise
Blanton, clerk for the City of Denison.
  Survivors include a brother Ben F. of Denison and sisters, Miss Blanton
and Mrs. Dorothy Wells, Denison.
   Funeral will be held Monday at 4 p.m. at Johnson-Moore chapel with Rev.
R.H. Peterson and Stacy Barham officiating.
   Burial will be at Cedarlawn Memorial Park with military services.
   Pallbearers will be Louis Rigler, John Blystone, H.C. Ross, Shelby
Bowling, Dr. W.N. Porter, Bill Dugger, Dick Bishop and Kirk May.
   The family will be at the funeral home Sunday from 5 to 6 p.m.

Sherman Democrat, Editorial Comment, Sunday, September 28, 1975, p.2
BLANTON: Man And Law-man
  Where on earth, except in the imagination of a writer of western fiction,
would you find lawman who chases bad guys all night, locks 'em up and then
returns on Sunday to read them the Scripture through jailhouse bars?
  This is one of the many unusual facets of a man among us who became almost
a legend in his own time.  This would be Grayson County Sheriff Woody
Blanton, who died Saturday at 63 of a heart condition.
  He was one of Texas' most effective and best known law enforcement
officers.  He was perhaps the most effective among the several outstanding
sheriffs who have served this county in generations past.  He also was
deeply loved and respected for his many human qualities, including his
religious convictions.
   Sheriff Blanton was a man of contrasts.  No doubt, these were due in part
to the intense devotion he brought to his job during the 25 years he served,
with never a serious opponent at election time.
   A man of strong will and rugged physical presence, Blanton could be heard
and driving in a particularly difficult case of criminal investigation or
all-out manhunt.  He was especially hard and driving upon himself.  He was
the kind of leader who was out front whenever the job at hand demanded that
he be there.
   Sheriff Blanton, without his knowing it, probably gave a certain kind of
on-the-job "boot camp" training to young newspaper reporters assigned to
cover the sheriff's department.  His gruff, sometimes abrasive manner with
young reporters appeared to be his way of determining how the news reporter
would react under pressure and if the journalist, rattled by the treatment,
might commit errors in reporting the news.
   One reporter for the Sherman Democrat once observed admiringly: "He's a
tough old codger, but I learned a lot about covering crime from him."
   One the other hand, he was a man of deep understanding and sympathy for
the victim of crime, for a fellow officer in trouble, for a fellow human
being in need of help.  He was a man whose emotions sometimes erupted when
he faced great frustrations, or injustice, or when he was confronted with a
situation he considered to be a roadblock to his pursuit of law enforcement.
   In a day when crime runs rampant at all levels of life in this country,
this county and this nation can ill afford the loss of such an effective
crime fighter as Sheriff Blanton.  His efforts were constant to upgrade his
department by bringing in better men to work at better salaries under better
conditions and with better training and equipment.
   The tide against crime and this nation can most certainly be turned if
Sheriff Blanton's brand of dedication to hard work and full prosecution of
the law can be instilled in more lawmen, in more prosecutors, I more
presiding judges and - above all  in more citizens, causing them to back
these servants with money and personal involvement in jury service and other
ways.

More Woody Blanton Articles


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