James M. Blenkhorn, Jr. ’55
James Merritt Blenkhorn Jr., passed away on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020 at 9:15 p.m. He died of natural causes in the presence of close family at his home in Kissimmee, Fla.
James was born in Hampden, Maine, on July 19, 1934, to James M. Blenkhorn Sr. and Pauline Blenkhorn; he was the youngest of three children with sisters, Ruth and Jane, now deceased.
He graduated from public high school in that area. One notable aspect of his life as a young person, was that he joined a Public Works Labor Union at age 13 and worked on the rural roads in the Lewiston-Auburn area that were being upgraded from dirt to asphalt. James attended Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, Maine, and graduated in 1955 with a B.S. in Engineering. He would spend four years in the U.S. Merchant Marine as a Licensed Marine Engineer and in 1960 entered the U.S. Navy as an Ensign serving as a Junior Bridge Officer. James served in active duty for nine years and continued in the U.S. Naval Reserve for another 11 years; he left the Navy Reserve achieving the rank of Captain.
James retired from active-duty Navy in 1968 to join the engineering staff at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Bath; this relationship came from his prior work at BIW as one of the naval officers who went to BIW to conduct sea trials of destroyers and missile cruisers prior to their commissioning. James would be at BIW until 1978 and then his career in shipbuilding would go on to include senior program management positions at Sun Ship, Equitable Shipyards and Colonna’s Shipyard, among others. He would return to BIW in 1982 and become the Senior Vice President for Business Development; in this position he oversaw all operations of ship construction and conducted negotiations for ship building contracts with the U.S. Navy. Following his second period of time at BIW, James would conduct several consultative project management positions to the many groups within the shipbuilding profession with which he had become associated.
James initially retired to Southern Shores, N.C., with his wife, Jereldine; they moved to Kissimmee, Fla., in 2011. In his retirement, James supported many charities.
His wife, Jere, passed away in 2019; he is survived by his son, Kirke M. Blenkhorn and grandchildren, Eric J. and Jennifer A. Blenkhorn, Raleigh, N.C., and stepchildren, Allison Braton, Leesburg, Fla., and Andrew Beck, Dry Fork, Va. Nephews are Mark Sibley, Hanson, Mass., Paul Sibley, Punta Gorda, Fla. and Stephen Sibley currently living in Venezuela, Jim Shapleigh, Falls Church, Va., and Ted Shapleigh, Sun City, Calif. Nieces are Jenny Archuleta, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Ruth Sansing, Peyton, Colo.
A service is planned for July 19, 2021, at 11 a.m., at the Acadia National Cemetery in Jonesboro, to recognize the lives of James and Jere Blenkhorn. The family expresses thanks and gratitude to those who have reached out to us at this time to recognize our loss and honor the life of James M. Blenkhorn, Jr. Naturally, he will always be remembered but we pray that the legacy he left to his family and to so many others will be looked back upon and honored as we move forward without him.