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John R. Blossman

Died: March 30, 2009

Born in New Orleans to Edward Woodrow Blossman and Arthemise Alsina Blossman, John moved with his family at age eight to Ocean Springs, MS, where his father established Blossman Gas Company in 1951. John prepared at Phillips Andover Academy, entering Yale in the fall of 1962, where he became the only religion major in Yale College. He played intramural squash and freshman squash and lacrosse. He was manager of the varsity soccer team and roomed in Davenport with Joe Upton and Ivar Larsen. Following Yale John entered Vanderbilt Law School, graduating in 1969 and joining the natural gas firm in Mississippi founded by his father. Under John’s leadership, the company grew to become one of the largest butane dealers in the U.S. From 1970-72, John served in the U.S. Army, returning to Blossman Gas Co. following his service. In January, 1977, John married Courtney Cool Weidie, and they remained in Ocean Springs where John and Courtney became involved in civic life, supporting local schools and museums, the YMCA, and historic preservation efforts. John became a stalwart supporter and director of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce, and his active support of the community was recognized by the Lifetime Achievement Award of the City of Ocean Springs. John and Courtney raised three children: Lorie Brodowicz, Stuart Weidie, and Courtney Carbalido. John and Courtney were active members of the Episcopal Church. John served on the Board of Directors of French Camp Academy and Chamberlain Hunt Academy, where he served as chairman from 1994-2009.

John inherited his father’s eye for business opportunity, and income from Blossman Gas provided John the working capital to expand family interests into banking, real estate, air travel services, restaurants, printing, and concrete companies. Their social prominence was epitomized by the naming of Woodrow (1963) and John (1974) to the position of King d’Iberville, or King of Carnival at Biloxi, MS. John’s daughter Lorie was named Queen Ixolib in 1994.

John lived, by any measure, a full and productive life. He was loved by his family and friends, admired by his business associates and held in high esteem by the community in which he lived. He contracted cancer and died in his home on March 30, 2009. He is survived by his wife Courtney, daughter Lorie, stepson Stuart, stepdaughter Courtney, sister Patricia Burke, and nine grandchildren.

Ivar Larsen remembers:
John was a native of New Orleans and had lived in Ocean Springs, Mississippi since 1951. He prepared for Yale at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. After Yale he got a degree from Vanderbilt School of Law in 1969, and joined Blossman Gas, Inc., the company founded by his father, E. W. (Woodie) Blossman. At the time of his death (from cancer), John was Chairman of the Board of Blossman Gas, now the 10th largest retail propane dealer in the country, stretching from Southeast Louisiana to the metropolitan Washington, DC area. He was a widely respected member of the propane industry, and served terms as president of industry associations. He was involved in the banking industry and many other enterprises. He was also a director of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the City of Ocean Springs.

John was a member of the local Episcopal Church and active in area academies, the YMCA, and local art museums. He and his wife were deeply involved in protecting Ocean Springs’ historic charm and quality of life.

John is survived by his wife Courtney C. Blossman, three children, a sister, and nine grandchildren.

At Yale John was in the Fence Club, he played squash, and he was the manager for the Soccer Team. Being a member of the Yale Coop, he was fond of pointing out that the more you spent, the more you saved. Being occasionally distracted, one time he purchased some items in a local clothing store, and when he asked them to charge it to his account, they could not find his information. It turns out his account was at J. Press, but he had wandered into the wrong store.

John had the distinction of being the one and only religion major in the class of ’66. A favorite religious philosopher was Søren Kierkegaard. His roommates and others remember with love his kind and gentle ways, his optimism, and his infectious chuckle. Back in those days long distance calls were all handled by operators, and part of John’s Sunday evening routine was to call his folks. He would ask the operator for Trinity 5-5549 in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and that number still sticks with me.

Freshmen were not allowed to have cars, but John quickly got one, ostensibly for making the long drives to Mississippi on vacations. I fondly remember many a trip with John, to Mississippi, of course, but also to closer locations like Northampton, Poughkeepsie, Cambridge, and Princeton. His folks were a little concerned about John running around the northeast with Mississippi license plates, so they had his car registered up north, in North Carolina. As a result, some place in Alabama or Mississippi John was heckled for being a Northerner.

Visiting John in Ocean Springs, which is on the Gulf Coast, was a lot of fun. He and his family were always gracious and generous. To ensure they would always have a good dining experience, they resurrected an old coast tradition called Trilby’s Restaurant, where the food was fantastic, and the bar prepared Blossman megatinies. At Yale John was a great fan of the Yankee Doodle sandwich shop. One Sunday in Ocean Springs John decided to have a cook-out, but all the stores were closed. Not a problem. John went to the back door of Trilby’s and had them grind some filets into hamburger meat for the cook-out.

The beach and water sports were always popular, and I recall one ill-fated trip when the boat engine conked out, and we were all burned to crisps. Another incident, which also is more enjoyable in retrospect, was associated with the Blossman general aviation landing field. The company pilot took us on a trip, and the weather turned bad. Because of the complete cloud cover the pilot had to file an instrument flight plan, and we were really bumping along in the four-seater. Finally he deemed we were within range and took us down. When we got out of the clouds we were right next to a radio antenna tower. I was subsequently told that I had turned a bilious shade of green.

Speaking of green; John and his family were environmentally green well ahead of time. I had taken one of the cars for a ride and went to have it filled with gas. Mysteriously, the attendant could only get a few drops of gas into the tank. Subsequently I learned that there was a second tank in the trunk, and I had been riding around consuming propane as fuel.

John had an easy manner, was full of optimism, and had a good sense of humor. To the very end, he laughed and enjoyed life and those he loved.

The above notes were prepared by Ivar Larsen in April 2011.

Richard Barry remembers:
John and I met in the ninth grade at Andover. He was, then and always, a friend who made others feel good just being around him with that ready smile, good humor, and a kind of personal grace. He never failed to make my day brighter, and I miss him.

John’s obituary began as follows, and every word rings true:

“John Richard Blossman, a well-known Gulf Coast businessman and community leader, died of cancer Monday morning, March 30, 2009, at his home in Ocean Springs [MS]. He was 65.

John lived a meaningful life and was a blessing to his family and all who knew him. He will be remembered for his kind, gentle way and his humility. His spirituality served as an example and great encouragement to others, and he was always there when needed.

His humor lifted those around him. To the very end, he laughed and enjoyed life and those he loved.”