Mr. Elmer E. Blankenship Jr.
February 18, 1926 – October 9, 2021
Elmer E. Blankenship, Jr., age 95 of Indianapolis passed away on Saturday, October 9, 2021. Elmer was born on February 18, 1926, in Ashland, Kentucky. He went to Washington Elementary School and graduated from Washington High School, in East Chicago. He attended Indiana University Extension in East Chicago and Indianapolis.
Elmer served two years in the U.S. Navy during World War II and graduated from the Navy Aviation Electronics School at Corpus Christi, Texas and was promoted to Aviation Electronics Technicians Mate.
After the Navy, Elmer worked at the Budd Company in Gary, Indiana, he was active in Local Union 1122 and in Community Affairs. He served as Steward, Chairman of the Steward Council, Editor of the Local Union Newspaper, Chairman of the Education Committee, and a member of the Bargaining Committee and Vice-President.
Elmer was appointed Education Representative for Region 3 by Walter Reuther, July 15, 1957. During the UAW staff lay-offs (1958 & 59) he served as a Staff Representative for the Industrial Union Department AFL-CIO assigned to study the impact and work for repeal of the Indiana Right to Work Law. Following the merger of the Indiana State AFL and CIO, he was named Education Representative and coordinated the first two annual Summer Schools for the merged organization. He also worked in their political action program and was a Lobbyist during the Indiana General Assembly Sessions.
Elmer was recalled to the UAW as Citizenship Legislative Representative in Region 3 in 1960. In 1965 he transferred to the Region 3 Service Staff. Elmer was assigned to assist in special arbitration throughout Region 3.
Elmer was appointed Co-Assistant Director of Region 3, UAW, October 15, 1972. Elmer helped Locals establish apprenticeship and other skilled training programs. He assisted in the establishment of the Region 3 UAW-GM Human Resource Center and the UAW-Chrysler Region 3 Training Center. He administered progress to assist laid off workers to make the transition to new jobs.
Elmer represented the UAW on several boards, councils, and conferences. He was Secretary-Treasurer of the Hoosier State Apprenticeship Conference, Vice Chairman of the Indiana Vocational Education Council, Chairman of the United Way of Indiana, and was on former Governor Bayh’s Government Operations Committee, among others. Elmer also helped develop and oversee the UAW GM and Chrysler Dislocated Worker Program for laid-off members in the mid 80’s.
Elmer retired from the UAW in 1991 and became active with the UAW Retiree’s. He continued to be an activist for many causes, especially issues that pertained to seniors. He was Past Commander for the Hoosier Sail & Power Squadron, and President Emeritus for the Indiana Alliance for Retired Americans.
Elmer was a 32nd Degree Mason with the A.A. S. R. Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A., a member of The Valley Indianapolis since 1976.
Elmer’s favorite past times were bowling and golfing.
Elmer met his wife, Lillian, in May of 1947 while she was a car hop at a local restaurant in Hammond, IN. They married six months later on October 18, 1947, which would become a 73-year marriage. Elmer said she was feisty, and it was love at first sight. They lived in Hessville, East Chicago, and Hammond, IN. Their daughter, Teri, was born in 1960 while they lived in Hammond, and in 1961 they moved to Indianapolis, IN.
Elmer’s greatest joy in life was his family, and loved becoming a grandfather to his two granddaughters, Danielle and Rachel, and great-grandfather to his four great-grandsons, Tyaire, Ryan, Noah, and Parker. His favorite activity when his grandchildren and great-grandchildren were small was to read to them while they fell asleep in his arms. Elmer said his greatest achievement was his family and always made sure they knew they were loved with all his heart.
Elmer is survived by his wife Lillian Blankenship (Riddle), Daughter Teri Mallory (Blankenship) of Indianapolis, IN; granddaughters Danielle Lange (Ken) of Carmel, IN, and Rachel Mallory of Indianapolis, IN; great-grandsons Tyaire Jackson and Ryan Mallory of Indianapolis, IN, and Noah Lange and Parker Lange of Carmel, IN. Also surviving is Elmer’s sister Ruth Vann, niece Laura Vann Childers (Stanley), nephew Robert Vann (Aimee), and many more nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews. Elmer was preceded in death by his parents Anna Dazy (Lewis, Blankenship) and Elmer Blankenship, Sr., niece Lisa Libbing (Vann), and brother-in-law The Honorable George Vann.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a celebration of life will be held at a later date.