Walter James Blanton, age 72, of Henderson, NV passed away peacefully and joyfully on April 18, 2017. He was born on September 4, 1944 in Kent, WA to Harry and Loys McIntosh Blanton. Walter began playing the trumpet professionally at the age of 16. He graduated Suma Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Composition from Western Washington State College. He received the Master of Music in Trumpet and the prestigious Performer’s Certificate from Indiana University in 1968. He met and married Carol Helene Skelley on December 14, 1968 in Bloomington, Indiana. Walter and Carol moved to Las Vegas in 1973. He played in the major casinos for numerous top entertainers throughout his 52 year career including Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra Sr. and Jr., Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis and James Brown. He toured with the Woody Herman Band, the Broadway musical “Hair”, the Las Vegas/New World Brass Quintet and played Principal Trumpet for the Las Vegas Philharmonic and Nevada Symphony Orchestras. Walt taught at Indiana University, the University of Kentucky, UNLV, Nevada School of the Arts and the College of Southern Nevada retiring in 2012 after 44 years of teaching. Walt was composer/arranger and trumpeter for the guardian Angel Cathedral for 27 years.
Walter was recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Western States Arts Federation and received the prestigious Governor's Arts Award for Excellence in the Arts from the Nevada Arts Council. He was also the recipient of two Artist Fellowships from the NAC. He was named "Composer of the Year" by the Music Teachers National Association. Two of his compositions were commissioned and premiered in Alice Tully Hall in New York by the New Juilliard Ensemble. His music was also featured at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. He created music for the the New World Brass Quintet, the Las Vegas Chamber Players, the Nevada Symphony, the Nevada Jazz Orchestra (of which he was co-founder), as well as music from small groups to big bands, including the Eastman Wind Ensemble. He performed with his own jazz groups, "Dharma," "Echoes of Ellington" and the audio art ensemble, "CARAVAN." For 25 years, he created and hosted the jazz program "Notes From the Underground" on KUNV 91.5 FM. He was presented with Las Vegas Jazz Society Volunteer of the Year Award, as well as the Adjunct Faculty of the Year Award from UNLV. An integral part of the music community, he was President and Vice-President of the Las Vegas Jazz Society; Board Member and Music Specialist for the Allied Arts Council/Nevada Arts Council; Artistic Director for Nevada Jazz Artists and the New World Brass Quintet; and Chair and Coordinator for the Society of Composers, Inc. International 25 Anniversary Convention. He was adjudicator for the National Trumpet Competition for nine years, a member of NARAS, BMI, the International Trumpet Guild and the Society of Composers, Inc. Walt was a Life Member of the American Federation of Musician's Union, Las Vegas Local 369.
Walter is survived by his wife Carol Helene Blanton; a brother Tom (Donna) Blanton; three sisters Margaret Joy, Dorothy (Jim) Hougardy, Kathy (Joe) Gunther; sister-in-law Joan (Roger) Skelley-Watts; ten nieces and nephews and a large extended family. He is preceded in death by his parents Harry and Loys McIntosh Blanton; a sister Joyce Blanton Walters.
There will be a Funeral Mass in Celebration of the Life of Walter Blanton, Bishop Joseph A. Pepe presiding, on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at Guardian Angel Cathedral, 302 Cathedral Way, Las Vegas, NV 89109. Family and friends can sign an online memorial guestbook at www.bouldercityfamilymortuary.com. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Indiana University Foundation William Adam Trumpet Scholarship or the AdamFest at Okphilkarl@yahoo.com
Bill Adam Trumpet Festival
William Adam Trumpet Scholarship
1201 East Third Street, Bloomington IN 47405-2200
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that gifts be made to the Indiana University Jacob School of Music’s William Adam Trumpet Scholarship in Walter’s honor. Checks should be made payable to the IU Foundation, and mailed to the IU Foundation, c/o IU Jacobs School of Music, P.O. Box 6460, Indianapolis, IN 46206-6460. Please note the name of the scholarship and “In Honor of Walter Blanton” in the memo field of the check. Contact the IU Jacobs School of Music’s development office at 812-855-5342 with any questions.