Hamilton historian, transportation guru dies at age 82

Even in his teens, Hamilton native James “Jim” L. Blount, was having an impact on his hometown. And it only got bigger from there.

As a student, Blount, a 1953 Hamilton High School graduate, was quarterback during 1952, and worked on the school newspaper and for a radio show on WMOH. He would go on to become editor of the Journal-News, where his opinion columns pushed for a multitude of improvements, including significant highway projects in the city and county that have come to be.

Blount died Tuesday at Fort Hamilton Hospital. He was 82.

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“What Jim did after he retired was strictly volunteer,” said his wife of 58 years, Jackie (Steigerwalt) Blount. “And he didn’t care who got the credit, as long as the job got done.”

A member of the Butler County Transportation Improvement District board since 1994, including chairman in recent years, he was a major force in creating road improvements that included the Ohio 129 link from Interstate 75 to Hamilton; in the Liberty Center area; the Ohio 4 Bypass; and South Hamilton Crossing, whose overpass was named after him in July.

A little-known fact about Blount: He was the press-box announcer and record keeper for the Cincinnati Bengals from their beginning in 1968 through 2008, missing only two home games in those 41 seasons.

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He worked for the Cincinnati Enquirer while earning a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Cincinnati, and later earned a master’s in history from Miami in 1965.

He taught high-school history in Hamilton for six years. In 1963, he started working full-time for the Journal-News, becoming the editor in the early 1970s. In 1986, he returned to teaching civics and history at Wilson Junior High School.

He was named Hamilton Citizen of the Year for 2005 and was Hamilton City Schools’ Teacher of the Year for 1991-1992. He also was inducted into the city school district’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the Butler County Historical Society’s Distinguished Historian Award in 2001.

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He also was Hamilton’s official historian, and wrote more than a dozen books about local history.

Richard O Jones, another Hamilton historian and former Journal-News employee, called Blount’s passing “a profound loss to Hamilton and Butler County. Not only did he have an unsurpassed knowledge of the history of the area, gleaned from a lifetime of research, he was generous in sharing the stories of Hamilton’s growth and in passing along his wisdom to make this a better place to live.”

Jones added: “I was always a little disappointed that our respective tenures at the Journal-News did not overlap.

“(Blount was) always very supportive and encouraging, always ready to answer a question, always ready to speak to the truth,” he said.

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Blount was born June 4, 1935, oldest of James and Julia (Mignerey) Blount’s five children. He was preceded in death by son Brian, who died in 1997.

Aside from his wife, he is survived by his daughter Lori, grandchildren James (Anabel) and Devin, great grandchildren Ella, Maya and Leo Shook. Siblings include Judy (Ron) Hartman and Jean (Bill) Eads of Hamilton, Jerry (Dorothy) Blount and Joyce Blount of Arizona.

Visitation will be Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. at Weigel Funeral Home. A short memorial service will be held 10 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home. Afterward, in a private ceremony, Blount will be buried at Rose Hill Cemetery.

Memorials may be directed to The Blount Family Scholarship, Miami University-Hamilton, 1601 University Blvd, Hamilton, OH 45011 or the Brian J. Blount Memorial Scholarship, Hamilton Community Foundation, 319 N. 3rd St., Hamilton, OH 45011.

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