Blount remembered as visionary, mentor

A former town manager of Woodstock who died Monday left his mark on the community he served for almost 20 years.

James H. “Jim” Blount Jr., 83, served as Woodstock’s town manager from 1968 until his retirement in 1987. Blount, formerly of Christiansburg, died in Buckingham, according to his obituary. Blount served in the U.S. Marine Corps and then worked in local government for 34 years, first in Christiansburg and then Woodstock.

Blount volunteered as a firefighter with the Christiansburg Fire Department from 1944-1968. He then served with the Woodstock Fire Department from 1968-1990, including 20 years as assistant chief, and, even in the past few months would show up to emergencies. Blount also served on various local and state fire associations.

Shenandoah County Department of Fire and Rescue Chief Gary Yew recalled that Blount brought a lot of experience in the field to the community as well as his skills as a state fire services instructor. Yew was one of the original junior members of the Woodstock Fire Department when Blount came to the town.

“Jim served as an excellent coach and mentor and instructor for those of us that were young and impressionable and just coming into the system,” Yew recalled. “It’s not so much only the fire and medic skills that Jim did a good job teaching, but Jim also impressed upon us the value of good ethics and good morals and being a good citizen.”

Blount often would call members who missed a regular training session at the Woodstock station to see if he could help, Yew said.

“[Blount] still remained a mentor to me to this day and a very good friend,” Yew said.

Woodstock Town Manager Reid Wodicka issued a lengthy statement on Blount’s death on Thursday that highlights the man’s accomplishments.

“Town of Woodstock expresses its condolences to Mr. Blount’s family and friends as they mourn the loss of this great and visionary man,” Wodicka stated.

Blount’s accomplishments include the renovation of a service station into the current Town Hall building at 135 N. Main St., dedicated in 1969. The new Town Hall replaced a small building used near the Woodstock Fire Department. During his tenure, Blount worked to upgrade the town’s water and sewer system. Wodicka called Blount’s knowledge of the system “unparalleled.” Wodicka said Blount met recently with him and other officials to talk about problem areas in the system and to provide recommendations for improvements.

During Blount’s tenure, the town switched its water source from mountain reservoirs to the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. Wodicka cited Blount’s reports to council in the early 1970s that indicated the reservoirs would run out of water. Blount led the town in a cooperative effort with the Shenandoah County Sanitation Authority that allowed Woodstock to have enough water for decades. Under Blount, the town eventually took control of the water treatment plant.

The town made improvements to the W.O. Riley Park, created Peter Muhlenberg Plaza with help from the Woodstock Garden Club, closed the existing town dump and helped open the Shenandoah County landfill, purchased the first RADAR devices for the police officers to use and put a radio system in service giving the police department its own frequencies, during Blount’s tenure.

“Mr. Blount’s commitment to public service, both through his professional life and his volunteer activities, is an inspiration to all of us and we were fortunate to be able to gain from his experience,” Wodicka stated. “Woodstock was fortunate to have Mr. Blount on our side and the Town is better for his service.”

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com