Without Mike Blankenship, the Underground Utility Contractors of Florida (UUCF) wouldn’t have grown into the organization it is today, its executive vice president said.
The organization, as well as the rest of the construction industry, will feel his loss, Bruce Kershner said.
Blankenship, the vice president of Blankenship Contracting Inc. in Tallahassee, Fla., died Sept. 16.
Born in Abbeville, Ala., he moved to Florida in 1973 from Dothan, Ala.
Blankenship worked in construction for his entire professional life. He started as a pipe layer for an underground utility contractor and moved on to become a product engineer for a pipe manufacturer.
In 1973, he opened his own underground utility and excavation company, Blankenship Contracting. What started as a small company with six employees grew into a major firm with 100 employees and a second office in Dothan.
Blankenship was one of the UUCF’s founding members in 1980. Kershner said he traveled throughout Florida in those early days to “forge a strong and polished group of chapter associations beneath the UUCF umbrella.”
His legacy, Kershner said, is “the fact that we are now a respected regulated member of the construction industry in the state of Florida.”
Kershner said that even though Blankenship was a soft-spoken man, his words carried a lot of impact.
“Many times, people would call Mike and seek his council,” Kershner said.
For his work, Blankenship earned the Mitch Ellington Contractor of the Year award in 2000 and the Andrew J. Nayts Award, which goes to a UUCF board member, in 2006.
Kershner said Blankenship was instrumental in the institution of licenses for utility contractors, which was finalized in 1982. The move was important, Kershner said, because, “our industry sometimes didn’t have the greatest image and he wanted to add professionalism to it.”
A member of the state’s Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB), Blankenship was appointed by the governor to be its first underground utility and excavation contractor representative.
“He was basically the voice of the UUCF because of his role on the Construction Industry Licensing Board,” Kershner said.
During his 12 years on the CILB, Blankenship was chairman from 1989 to 1990. He was forced to resign from the CILB in November 2005 due to health reasons.
Blankenship’s interests spread beyond the construction industry.
He was a member of the Capital City Rotary Club, a member of Ducks Unlimited of Havana, a member of the board of directors at Farmers and Merchants Bank, a former member of the board of directors at Southern Bank and a member of Big Bend Time Keepers.
In 2002, he designed and built a skate park for the Tallahassee City Parks and Recreation Department. In 2006, he received the Ethics in Business award from the Rotary Clubs of Tallahassee.
Blankenship is survived by his wife of 41 years, Gayle; daughters Kelly Blankenship Holloway of Ocala, Fla., Kristy Wilson and husband Paul of Charlotte, N.C., and Katy and Kerry Blankenship, both of Tallahassee; brothers Jimmy and wife Carolyn of Dothan, Ala., John and wife Cathy of Abbeville, Ala., and Doug and wife Helen of Dothan, Ala.; sisters Lee and husband Jewel Overton of Powder Springs, Ga., Janette Givens and husband Wayne of Panama City, Fla., and Judy and husband Jerry Ambercrumbie of Louisville, Ala.
Memorial contributions may be made to Life Quest, 720 Southwest 2nd Ave., Suite 570, Gainesville, FL, 32601.