Rev. Dr. Henry Warren Blakeman, Jr.
August 17, 1932 – October 2, 2018
Rev. Dr. Henry Warren Blakeman, Jr. or Warren as he was commonly known, was born August 17, 1932 at St. Francis Hospital in Monroe, LA. With classic literary foreshadowing, one of his favorite quotes was by T.S. Eliot in Little Gidding, “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”, he passed away surrounded by family at St. Francis Hospital on October 2, 2018.
Dr. Blakeman graduated from Rayville High School as senior class president where he developed a love of theater and public speaking. He carried that with him to Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport where he worked at the campus radio station and acted in plays while earning his B.A. He was later awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from Centenary, a school he loved deeply and to which he introduced scores of new students throughout his career. Upon completion of his undergraduate degree, he began his pursuit of a law degree at LSU Law School while also working with the youth group at First Methodist Church in Baton Rouge. After two years of study, and the sage advice of his law school dean, he made the decision to transfer to SMU’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, TX where he earned a Master of Theology degree.
Warren served as a United Methodist minister throughout Louisiana for forty-three years including appointments as Senior Minister at Horseshoe Drive in Alexandria, Henning Memorial in Sulphur, Aurora in New Orleans, Broadmoor in Shreveport and most recently, St. Paul’s in Monroe. He led successful building campaigns, encouraged charitable contributions and participation, and made a point to connect with members and visitors personally. Interspersed with his service at the local level and at the appointment of the Louisiana Conference Bishop, Warren accepted positions as the District Superintendent of the New Orleans and North Shore districts. He also served on several boards including Pendleton Methodist Hospital and the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Committee.
He was extremely honored to serve as a guest chaplain of both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D. C.
After his retirement in 1999, he served as interim Director of Development for the Methodist Children’s Home and worked in development for the Louisiana Methodist Foundation. He was an active member of Rotary and regularly volunteered at the Monroe Symphony League Book Room and the Ouachita Valley Public Library.
Those who knew Warren well, knew of his love for books (mysteries, anthologies, first-editions and English literature), incunabula, early printing, antique maps and manuscripts. One of his greatest honors was to be singled out to receive the first Bridwell Library Visiting Scholar Fellowship from the Bridwell Library at SMU which allowed him hands-on access to their magnificent collection of rare books, fifteenth century early printing archives and medieval manuscripts and scrolls.
Warren was a people person. He never met a stranger and always had a vignette to enhance any given situation. Warren had a wonderful sense of humor and was a talented story teller which served him well in the pulpit. He also had the ability to remember names and faces by connecting them to situations and experiences. He knew you, your family, where you grew up, what you did for a living, and how you could best serve the church and others. In his presence you felt important, recognized and validated.
He is survived by his wife of fifty-seven years, Mary Lou Gassen Blakeman of Sulphur, LA; his son, Jeff and wife, Wendy of Carlsbad, CA; two daughters, Jennifer of New York, Julie of Monroe; four granddaughters, Katie, Emily and Sammi Blakeman, Eden Blakeman-Friedman; and a host of nephews, nieces, and cousins.