Posted on: July 8, 2019
Walter Linwood Blankenbaker, born March 12, 1929 in Madison, VA, died June 5, 2019 in Charlottesville. He is survived by his children, Susan Uzzle (husband Robert and step-son Chris), Kim Gotwals (children Emily and Drew), Whit Blankenbaker (partner Sally), and Ann Seivertson. In January, Emily and husband Peter welcomed a son Walter, named after his great grandfather. He was predeceased by his loving wife of 58 years, Edwina Wright Blankenbaker.
From his first job as a soda jerk at Grymes Drugstore in Orange, VA, Walter knew he wanted to be a doctor. He saw the promise of the GI Bill, coaxing his mother’s signature to join the Navy at 17. After his Naval service, he attended UVA for undergraduate and medical school; he lived on the storied UVA Range during part of his time there. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and as a member of the Raven Society, Phi Chi medical fraternity, and Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society. His most impressive award during that time, however, was winning the heart of Edwina. They married in 1954 and started a family shortly thereafter. As a general practitioner in Louisa, Va., he delivered many babies, stitched up many wounds, and calmed many nervous mothers. Ready for a new challenge, he began an anesthesiology residency at UVA. Only as adults did his children realize how brave this effort was, particularly with four of us in tow! He practiced at UVA hospital and concluded his career in private practice at Martha Jefferson Hospital. He served as president of the Southern Society of Anesthesiologists and was a delegate to the American Society of Anesthesiologists. He was most proud of being able to help so many people throughout his practice.
Walter was a Mr. Fix-It at home and a skilled woodworker; his children are proud of the furniture he made for them from a cherry tree in the backyard. He served on the boards of several community organizations, including Hospice of the Piedmont and the Senior Center. He also served as a deacon at Broadus Memorial Baptist Church. He was thankful for the opportunity to travel abroad with Edwina after retirement and enjoy their second home on Indian Creek in Kilmarnock, Va., although it must be noted that Edwina was the better fisherman. By example, he taught his children to take responsibility seriously, use brain before brawn, measure twice and cut once, and that everything is a trade-off so think it through. Above all, Walter loved his wife, children, grandchildren, and cat Abby.
The family is grateful for the outstanding care he received in the past several weeks at Martha Jefferson Hospital, The Laurels Rehab Center, and UVa Hospital. Physicians, nurses, and aides all remarked what a sweet man he was. In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Martha Jefferson Foundation or Hospice of the Piedmont are welcomed.