August 17, 1932 – October 2, 2018
The Rev. Dr. Henry Warren Blakeman, Jr. or Warren as he was commonly known, was born August 17, 1932 at St. Francis Hospital in Monroe, LA. With classic literary foreshadowing, one of his favorite quotes was by T.S. Eliot in Little Gidding, “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”, he passed surrounded by family at St. Francis Hospital on October 2, 2018.
Dr. Blakeman graduated from Rayville High School as senior class president where he developed a love of theater and public speaking. He carried that with him to Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport where he worked at the campus radio station and acted in plays while earning his B.A. He was later awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from Centenary, a school he loved deeply and to which he introduced scores of new students throughout his career. Upon completion of his undergraduate degree, he began his pursuit of a law degree at LSU Law School while also working with the youth group at First Methodist Church in Baton Rouge. After two years of study and the sage advice of his law school dean, he made the decision to transfer to SMU’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, TX where he earned a Master of Theology. While in Dallas he taught at St. Marks School and drew on his theater experience to perform as emcee at many events including the Texas State Fair.
Warren served as a United Methodist minister throughout Louisiana for forty-three years including appointments as Senior Minister at Horseshoe Drive in Alexandria, Henning Memorial in Sulphur, Aurora in New Orleans, Broadmoor in Shreveport and most recently, St. Paul’s in Monroe. Ministering to tens of thousands of people throughout his career, he married over one thousand couples, Baptized as many babies and attended to the funerals of countless individuals. He led successful building campaigns, encouraged charitable contributions and participation, and made a point to connect with members and visitors personally. Interspersed with his service at the local level and at the appointment of the Louisiana Conference Bishop, Warren accepted positions as the District Superintendent of the New Orleans and North Shore districts overseeing approximately 128 churches and eleven institutions. He also served on several boards including Pendleton Methodist Hospital and the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Committee.
He was extremely honored to serve as a guest chaplain of both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D. C. and always noted for that one period of time, all was quiet and his was the only voice heard in the room as he prayed for our country and for the elected officials of the time to do their best for our country.
After his retirement in 1999, he served as interim Director of Development for the Methodist Children’s Home and worked in development for the Louisiana Methodist Foundation. He was an active member of Rotary and regularly volunteered at the Monroe Symphony League Book Room and the Ouachita Valley Public Library.
Those who knew Warren well, knew of his love for books (mysteries, anthologies, first-editions and English literature), incunabula, early printing, antique maps and manuscripts. He would often refer to his books as his friends and if he gifted one, the recipient was truly blessed as he was actually gifting a piece of himself. One of his greatest honors was to be singled out to receive the first Bridwell Library Visiting Scholar Fellowship from the Bridwell Library at SMU which allowed him hands-on access to their magnificent collection of rare books, fifteenth century early printing archives and medieval manuscripts and scrolls.
His CD collection was vast and encompassed the great voices of Broadway and opera as well as the classics of Beethoven, Mozart and Mahler. He loved collecting pens and even more enjoyed giving them as gifts. Warren had a special knack for finding a deal and talking his way to a discount of some kind always with the goal of increasing his ability to give and share his finds with others he thought would enjoy them. Above all else, he was a people person. He never met a stranger and always had a vignette to enhance any given situation. Warren had a wonderful sense of humor and was a talented story teller which served him well in the pulpit. He also had the ability to remember names and faces by connecting them to situations and experiences. He knew you, your family, where you grew up, what you did for a living, and how you could best serve the church and others. In his presence you felt important, recognized and validated.
Warren is preceded in death by his parents, Henry Warren Blakeman, Sr. and Eugenia Harwood Skinner of Rayville and his brother, Jack Skinner Blakeman, of Sanger, CA.
He is survived by his wife of fifty-seven years, Mary Lou Gassen Blakeman of Sulphur, LA; his son, Jeff and wife, Wendy of Carlsbad, CA; two daughters, Jennifer and Julie of New York, NY; four granddaughters: Katie, Emily and Sammi Blakeman and Eden Blakeman-Friedman; and a host of nephews, nieces and cousins.
Visitations will be held on Sunday, October 7 from 6-8pm at Mulhearn Funeral Home on Hwy 165 in Monroe, LA and on Monday, October 8 from 10-10:45am at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church on Lexington Avenue in Monroe. Services will be held on Monday, October 8 at 11am at St. Paul’s with a brief graveside service at Mulhearn Memorial Park Cemetery on Hwy 80. The Rev. R. B. Moore and Rev. Fred Wideman will officiate.
Serving as pall bearers are Mr. Billy Blackman, Mr. Keith Covington, Mr. Todd Girtman, Mr. Matt Jacocks (his nephew), Dr. Chuck Morgan, Mr. Jeff Mouk, Mr. Ryan Sartor and Mr. Doug Seegers.
Serving as honorary pallbearers are Judge Gene Bryson, Mr. Lamar Buffington, Dr. Mike Cage, Dr. Ed Coates, Dr. John Cooksey, Capt. Tom Guttery, Dr. Ken Jackson, Dr. George Jones, Dr. Walt Sartor, Dr. Sidney Seegers and the ministers of the Louisiana United Methodist Conference.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Dr. Blakeman’s name to the Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home in Ruston, LA (LMCH.org) or to the special music fund at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 1901 Lexington Ave, Monroe, LA 71201.
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