H. R. 20
(By Mr. Speaker, Mr. Kiss, and Delegates Martin,
Staton, Sparks, Dalton, Fantasia Givens,
Prunty, Seacrist, Smirl and Wright)
"Enrolling a memorial to the life and public service of the
Honorable Chester Arthur Blankenship, former Clerk of the House of
Delegates, former member of the House, educator and public
Whereas, The members of the House of Delegates profoundly take
note of the death on December 3, 1997, of the Honorable Chester
Arthur Blankenship at his home in Pineville, and desire to pay
tribute to the memory of this former member, Clerk, educator and
Born on January 5, 1903, at Baileysville, West Virginia, he
was the son of James H. and Tennessee Frances (Cole) Blankenship.
Mr. Blankenship received his preparatory education in the public
schools of Wyoming County, graduating from Pineville High School.
He was graduated from the Normal Department at Concord College and
pursued further college work at Marshall College, Davis and Elkins
College and received the A. B. Degree from Concord in 1935. He then
attended West Virginia University, where he obtained the Master of
Arts degree in 1937. Mr. Blankenship entered the teaching profession long before even graduating from college, having
commenced as an instructor in a two room school at the age of
fifteen. His teaching career spanned decades and was virtually
without boundaries, although professionally his career took place
in McDowell and Wyoming Counties. He was an elementary and high
school teacher and principal, and at the age of twenty-eight he was
elected Superintendent of Free Schools of Wyoming County in 1931.
C. A. Blankenship served four consecutive terms in the House
of Delegates, first elected to the Forty-seventh Legislature in
1944 and subsequently elected in 1946, 1948 and 1950. During the
organization of the House in 1945, the Speaker recognized not only
experience but also ability, and appointed the newly-elected C. A.
Blankenship to serve as Vice Chairman of the Committee on Education
during his first term. He continued in that capacity during the
Forty-eighth Legislature in 1947 and then served as Chairman of the
Committee on Education in 1949 and 1951, the Forty-ninth and
Fiftieth Legislatures. It comes as no surprise that Mr. Blankenship
allied himself with professional organizations which furthered his
love of education. He was President of the West Virginia County
Superintendents Association in 1934; President, Wyoming County Teachers Association in 1936 and was a member of Kappa Delta Pi
He was a Baptist, a Mason and a Shriner. Politically a
Democrat, Mr. Blankenship served his party well. He was Chairman
of the Wyoming County Democratic Executive Committee in 1932-1934
and served as President of the Wyoming County Young Democrats from
1940 to 1942. As a member of the House, Mr. Blankenship was
particularly instrumental in the establishment of the School of
Medicine at West Virginia University .
He was married to Inez Mae Perry of Elkins, on November 28,
1928. They had four daughters--Carolyn, Barbara, Patty and Mary
Sue. His daughter, Barbara, preceded him in death and Mrs.
Blankenship survived him by approximately two months.
C. A. Blankenship loved the House of Delegates and was
appointed Clerk of the House by Governor Marland on April 15, 1954,
to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of J. R. Aliff. He
was elected Clerk in 1955 and reelected from 1957 through 1983, a
period spanning twenty-nine years. His demeanor as an educator
also manifested itself in his role as Clerk, and he continually
tutored new as well as incumbent members who, in his judgment,
demonstrated a penchant for public service. His advice and counsel
were sought after and highly respected.
Although he had only four daughters, countless young people received the benefit of his counsel, grand fatherly presence and
attention. He always approached the youth whom he encountered with
encouragement and stability. His extended family certainly
encompassed his staff, and he forthrightly gave his advice when
sought and his correction, stern but kind, when least expected. He
admonished all to learn.
Mr. Blankenship's public service totaled more than sixty
years, and he was noted among House and Senate Clerks nationwide as
having been the second longest-serving Clerk in the United States.
Chester Arthur Blankenship was truly a man of substance and a
person of the highest cailbercaliber. He was a disciple of the teachings
of the time-honored principle that "Public Office is a Public
He is survived by three daughters, Mary Sue Adams of
Charleston; Carolyn Norman of Jupiter, Florida and Patty Perry
Wells of Elizabethton, Tennessee; sisters, Grace Fender of
Pineville, Beulah Spears of Huntsville, Alabama; brother, Charlie
of Moneta, Virginia; twelve grandchildren and fourteen great- grandchildren; therefore, be it
Resolved by the House of Delegates:
That fully aware of the loss to his family, his community and
State by the passing of this able public servant, mentor and
friend, the members of the House of Delegates hereby mark the life, accomplishments and devoted public service of C. A. Blankenship and
extend to his family their sincere condolences; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates
transmitprepare certified copies of this resolution tofor the family of the
Honorable C. A. Blankenship.