Retired Colonel, 77, recalled for generosity

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Matt Tullis

  Dr. Wilbur Blount was the second
 Ohio Air National Guard state air
 surgeon and a member of the Ohio
Veterans Hall of Fame.



Even in the last month of his life, Dr. Wilbur Blount, a retired colonel in the Ohio Air National Guard and a respected  Columbus ophthalmologist, was still helping others.

He was still sponsoring students, so they could attend military balls. He was still helping students at his alma mater, East  High School. And he was still putting together presentations on health care for senior citizens, said retired Air Force Maj. Ben Klepek, the senior aerospace instructor and ROTC teacher at East.

Blount, who was the second state air surgeon of the Ohio Air National Guard and a 2004 inductee into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame, died Monday, May 8 2006. He was 77. He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Elsie, and five children.

"He has touched so many lives, young lives," Klepek said. "It didnt matter if you were white, black or Hispanic, he just wanted to help young people reach their goals."

Retired Ohio National Guard Chief Master Sgt. Terry McCumber said Blount was a great educator in the Air Force, especially when it came to teaching medics. He said Blounts death was a "great loss."

The two met in 1971 at what was then Lockbourne Air Force Base, and struck up a friendship that lasted until Blounts death.

"He was very well thought of in the military," he said. "I cant think of anybody he hasnt touched."

Klepek said Blount used his extensive professional contacts to help students at East, where he helped start the schools ROTC program. He also volunteered by teaching classes, lining up speakers and sponsoring students, so they could go to things such as summer leadership school or military balls.

One of those students was Daniel Petry, now a staff sergeant in the National Guards 121 st Air Refueling Wing at Lockbournes successor, Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base.

"If we needed help with something, he knew somebody that could help us out," Petry said. Blount received a bachelors degree from Ohio State University in 1951. Eight years later, he earned his medical degree at OSU. While at OSU, he was inspired by the heroics of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II and enrolled in ROTC.

He was later commissioned as an officer in the Air Force. He served two four-year tours of duty during the 1950s and was promoted to colonel in the Ohio Air National Guard in 1976. He served as state air surgeon until 1991.