John Cato “J.C.” Blalock, 98, of Burnet died July 7, 2013. He was born Dec. 12, 1941, in Fairland, Texas, to Maud Baugh and Victor Emmit “V.E.” Blalock, the first of nine children.
He was preceded in death by Buster, Joe, Bill, Virginia and Nunnie.
He is survived by siblings June, Bobbe and Sammy; children, Bruce and wife Sallie of Smithville and Sharon and husband Parks Smith of Riverside, Calif.; grandchildren, Michael Blalock, Kelly Blalock Morton and Catherine Smith Upson and husband Dirk of Riverside, Calif.; and great-grandchildren, Michael Blalock Jr., John Blalock, Kendall Blalock, Caroline Ruth Morton, Jason Matthew Morton Jr., Benjamin Lee Morton and Patrick Joshua Upson.
J.C. grew up in the Colorado and Llano rivers country, riding horses, hunting and, most of all, playing games. If any sport involved a ball, he was interested and usually very good at it. The first school years of his life were in a one-room schoolhouse in Fairland, where his teacher one year was Velma Elliott. She was hired at Burnet and taught J.C. again when he moved there.
As a child of the Depression, he was heavily influenced by provision of even the barest of necessities. J.C. went to San Marcos Teacher’s College (now Texas State University) on a football scholarship, which, at that time, meant the school provided classes and a job. Everything else was up to him, even room and board. After his freshman year in college, J.C. was hired to work in the kitchen at the construction site of Buchanan Dam. He enjoyed the work and the steady income, so he stayed. When fall approached and he didn’t return to school, the football coach visited him at the dam site. He asked J.C. to return to school and was told that he had discovered regular eating and really liked it.
After the completion of Buchanan Dam, J.C. went to work for Brown & Root on the Mansfield Dam construction project. There, he was an oiler, tending the cables that hauled material and machines via dragline or crane. A cousin of his told him about a dishwashing job in Austin at the Night Hawk restaurant that was a lot cleaner. The Night Hawk restaurants were owned by Harry Akin, a former mayor of Austin. J.C. took the job and never looked back. He soon became a cook and, eventually, the manager of the Night Hawk on Guadalupe Street in Austin.
In Austin, he met Georgia Lee Cannon, and they were married on June 3, 1940. In 1943, he was drafted into the Army Air Corps. After training, he was deployed to North Africa and assigned to the 47th Bombardment Group of the Twelfth Air Force. His unit was moved into Southern Italy, where it supported the invasion of Southern France and attacked German communications in Northern Italy. He flew 62 combat missions and was once shot down. He received the Air Medal for his service during a mission of destroying enemy transportation in the Po Valley to prevent the organized withdrawal of German forces.
Upon his return to Austin from the military, he went back to work at the Night Hawk. After a few years, J.C. followed his dream and was able to go back home to Burnet, where he opened JayCee House restaurant on Jan. 1, 1950. He ultimately leased the Lower Colorado River Authority’s Observation Point Restaurant at Buchanan Dam from Jan. 1, 1960, until he retired Jan. 1, 1979. There’s no way to remember how many chicken-fried steaks and banana cream pies he made. We will fondly remember J.C. and his homemade rolls, enchiladas, turkey dinner on Sunday, breakfasts and all the other delicious food he passed through that serving window to all of us and countless others.
The most fun J.C. ever had was playing football with Donald Barnett and Ed Young, his very best high school friends. Ed was quarterback, Donald was a running back and J.C. played end. His love of sports and games continued well into his 90s as he was very good at golf as well as bridge and loved sharing the experience with his friends. J.C. never saw any game that he didn’t enjoy. It didn’t make any difference who was playing or in what sport, a game was simply a delight to experience.
J.C. was the original Nike man. When something needed to be done, he never complained, he just did it.
A service was July 10 at Edgar Funeral Home, 109 Main St. in Burnet, (512) 756-4444, with Tim Denton officiating. Interment was at Lakeland Hills Memorial Park.
Go to http://edgarfh.com for condolences.