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Sunday, August 20, 2023
4:30 - 6:00pm (Central time)
Monday, August 21, 2023
11:00am - 12:00pm (Central time)
Some men’s lives cannot, and should not, be measured by their service to their community or their employer. Instead, some men should be judged by their impact on others. Wayne Blansett was such a man. He never asked for the spotlight; instead, he pushed others to center stage. He never sought awards; yet he did everything in his power to make sure other people received their just due. He never told others about his own multitude of gifts and talents; instead, he was the first to brag on someone else. Wayne’s servant leadership was the model for anyone who encountered him, and although he could be stern when necessary, few men have ever been more compassionate to others.
Growing up in Chickasaw County, he was Harvey Wayne. As a Houston Hilltopper or a member of Pi Kappa Alpha, he was Red Dog. Once he found his calling at Delta State, he was known as Dean Blansett, or fondly as Dr. B. To his wife of almost 50 years, he was Sweet Baby. He was Daddy to his two children, and PopPop to his four precious grands, who, even in the last most difficult years, never failed to bring a smile to his face. People loved Wayne and he loved them, but of all the special names for Wayne, the most Life-changing was Child of the King. Wayne loved the Lord and served Him in every area all 72 years of his life.
Harvey Wayne Blansett was called home on Friday, August 18, 2023, due to complications from a nine-year battle with Vascular Dementia. Born June 17, 1951, in Houston, MS to Maylene Stafford Blansett and Bill Blansett, Wayne was the youngest of four children. Wayne married his college sweetheart, Diane Woods of Winona, Mississippi in 1973 at Moore Memorial Methodist Church in Winona, and together they raised two children, Melanie and Brian. Those children and his family remained the absolute center of his universe until he took his last breath on this Earth.
After graduating from Houston High School, Wayne enrolled at Delta State College, later to become Delta State University, and at that moment, his entire world changed. Wayne bled Green and White, and the boy from the hills of Chickasaw County found a second home in the flat land of the Delta. As a student, Wayne was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, Chief Justice of the Student Government Association, a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa honorary society, and a member of the Delta State University Student Hall of Fame. He received his BSE in Social Science, his MEd in Counseling, and his EdD in curriculum and supervision, all from Delta State.
As an undergraduate, Wayne began his work in Student Affairs, first as a Resident Assistant in Housing for Dean O W Reily. He was quite honored to be considered one of “Wig’s Boys,” and attributed his professional opportunities to Dean Reily. In 1975, President Kent Wyatt hired Wayne to work with Dean Reily as an Assistant to the Dean of Students. Throughout the next 40 years, Wayne served the students as Associate Dean of Students, Dean of Students, and eventually as Vice President of Student Affairs. Wayne retired from Delta State in 2015, and was humbled and honored when a student residence hall was officially named Blansett Hall. It is only appropriate that a student residence hall bear his name on the Delta State campus as Wayne spent his entire career creating a home away from home for all of his students.
Thousands of students came through Delta State during Wayne's years on campus, and a majority of them have a favorite Dr. B. story. Many of them can do uncanny impersonations of him, and all of them speak of him with love. Just as his mentor, Dean Reily, had his “Boys,” Wayne had “His Guys,” (although not all of them were guys) and to many, there was no greater compliment than to be included on that list. To understand Wayne’s impact, you need only to listen to some of them-
Sayward Ely Fortner, Class of 2004: [Wayne] helped me and so many others make that unsteady leap from adolescence to adulthood because we knew he was in our corner cheering us on and helping us when we stumbled. And, most importantly, he loved the Lord and showed you instead of told you, in his kindness to all, selflessness, humility, lack of judgment, and forgiveness.
George Bassi, Class of 1987: He put himself in student’s lives and made an impact. That caring attitude and close interaction allowed him to instill his love of DSU and to make a student’s life on campus more meaningful through involvement. Besides his family, Wayne’s greatest legacy may be the countless former students who are now involved in some way with the DSU Alumni Association and Foundation and continue to give back to their alma mater.
John C. Cox, Class of 1996: Other than my father, no single man has had a greater influence on my life than Dr. B. He saw something in me that no one else did, and I became a different person because of his love and guidance. We didn’t always see eye to eye on every issue, and I can recall many times when his face would turn redder than his hair because of something I had done, but I always knew he loved me and would be in my corner to the very end. He was more than a mentor. To me, he was Delta State University. And he was my touchstone and guidepost even after my days as a student. I am forever one of “his guys.”
Wayne believed that service to community was both a calling and a privilege. He served on a number of boards and clubs including the Cleveland Noon Lions Club, the Cleveland Planning Commission, the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Trustees for the Cleveland Public Schools, and even after his retirement from Delta State, he served on the Board of Trustees for Coahoma Community College. For his service, he was crowned the Junior Auxiliary Benefit Ball King in 2020.
Wayne’s faith in our Creator was evident in everything he did in his life. He was a devoted member of Covenant Presbyterian Church, and for the last 41 years, Wayne was an officer at Covenant Presbyterian, serving as Deacon and later, as an Elder. He taught numerous Sunday School classes from the 2 and 3 year-olds to adult classes, led small group fellowships, and served on building committees and pastoral search committees.
Wayne was preceded in death by his parents, Bill and Maylene Blansett, and his sister Bobbie Frances Blansett Malone (Larry). He is survived by his beloved wife, Diane, their two children and their families: daughter Melanie Blansett Hebert, her husband Ed, their children Anna Woods and Mary Neal, and son Brian Blansett, his wife Sulee, and their children Jackson and McCarty. He is also survived by his brother Billy Blansett (Shirley), sister Sue Blansett Ray (Sonny, deceased), sister-in-law Donna Woods Gregory, brother-in-law Eddie Woods (Andrea), and a multitude of nieces and nephews.
A visitation will be held on Sunday, August 20, from 4:30 until 6:00 at Ray Funeral Home in Cleveland, MS. The Celebration of Life service will be held Monday, August 21, at 11:00 am at Covenant Presbyterian Church. The Blansett family would like to encourage those able to attend the Celebration of Life service to wear something green in Wayne's honor.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Covenant Presbyterian Church, Sunny Seniors Alzheimer's Respite Program (107 South Victoria, Cleveland, MS 38732), or the Wayne Blansett Leadership Scholarship at Delta State University (DSU Foundation, PO Box 3141, Cleveland, MS, 38733).