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Renaissance man: 'Peppy' Blount cast a broad shadow across his extraordinary life

By Longview News-Journal
June 23, 2010 at 8:13 p.m.


Ralph E. "Peppy" Blount could be called Longview's renaissance man.

Peppy, as those who knew him well or who may have met him for the first time called him, died Tuesday. Author, standout athlete, military pilot, Gregg County Judge and Texas State Representative were among the titles and honors Blount accumulated over the years.

His was an extraordinary life. Blount, 85, was elected to the Texas House of Representatives as the youngest person ever elected to the political arm at the time. He was an attorney and had been a standout football player at the University of Texas.

Many in his hometown of Longview will better remember him as person who could spin a yarn with the best of them. His storytelling abilities seldom caught him without comments to share.

Blount penned an autobiography titled "Mama, Don't Let your Babies Grow Up to Play Football," detailing his life as a star end for the University of Texas Longhorns and his career as a pro and college referee.

Blount also wrote and released "We Band of Brothers," an autobiography in which he told of his World War II experiences as a decorated combat pilot in the Pacific theatre, and a novel "A Time for All Reasons" about a West Texas kid training to be a pilot.

This talent probably contributed to making him a popular person to serve as emcee at public events.

Blount's oratory skills took center stage at a variety of events ranging from award ceremonies to serving as host for the annual Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day Telethon. Instead of taking the annual Labor Day weekend off to relax and kick back, Blount donated his time to anchor the telethon as master of ceremonies for 33 years.

While his outgoing personality and willingness to give back to the community was responsible for MDA raising thousands of dollars over the years, Blount, as he so often did, gave credit to others, as he was quoted doing in 2002.

"I never cease to be amazed" with how much East Texans give, said Blount. "It has led me to believe that we have the most generous people living in East Texas than anywhere else in the world."

Blount led that charge of generous giving by setting an outstanding example.

A military fighter pilot in World War II, a standout collegiate football player and an on-field football game official at both the college and professional level, his talents were many.

We join with his family and friends in grieving his death. But we rejoice in knowing that Longview, East Texas, this state and this country were better off for having Peppy Blount grace us with his bigger than life presence.

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