Centenarian Alice Bacon Blanton, niece of famed Frankfort bourbon craftsman and aristocrat Albert Bacon Blanton, died Wednesday. She was 101.
Blanton told FRANK. magazine last year that she had lived all of her life in the family's home on Wilkinson Boulevard, across from Buffalo Trace Distillery. The article, called “Friends through the years,” recounted Blanton’s longtime friendship with Mary Charlton Hundley Hulette, another Frankfort resident who is over 100 years old.
Blanton's uncle, known in the bourbon industry as "Colonel Blanton," worked 55 years at the Frankfort distillery now known as Buffalo Trace. He became president of then-George T. Stagg Bourbon Distillery in 1921 and is credited with keeping the distillery active during Prohibition, one of the few distilleries authorized by the federal government to make whiskey for medicinal purposes.
He came up with the concept for single-barrel bourbon for his own enjoyment and entertainment. Many years later, under the leadership of famed master distiller Elmer T. Lee, the Frankfort distillery named its Blanton's Single-Barrel Bourbon after Albert Blanton.
Alice Blanton, the daughter of James Bacon Blanton and Ida Roberts Blanton, was born on June 10, 1918.
Blanton graduated from Frankfort High School and attended the University of Kentucky. She became a bookkeeper for her father’s lumber and building materials company after graduation.
“Daddy had boats on the river, too, that would pull the fine sand out of the Kentucky River — tugboats, a paddlewheeler and some barges. I worked there until my early 60s when I sold the business,” Blanton said in the FRANK. magazine interview.
When asked if she had any advice for readers, Blanton said that she didn’t usually give advice.
“I’m not much on giving advice because I don’t take advice very well myself,” she commented.
Donna Hopkins, a Frankfort resident, met Blanton through the Frankfort Duplicate Bridge Club. The two played in games and teams together. Blanton was known as "Bakey," a reference to her middle name Bacon, among friends, Hopkins said.
"I thought she was extraordinary," Hopkins said.
People always wanted to be around Blanton and she was known as a kind and strong woman, Hopkins said. Blanton was committed to her membership in the National Society of Colonial Dames of America.
Blanton often told interesting tales about her experiences, like when she took courses at University of Cambridge, Hopkins said. Blanton had walked across the campus, passing scientist Stephen Hawking. Hopkins said Blanton later wished she had introduced herself at the time.
Blanton was on the advisory boards for the Salvation Army and the Red Cross.
She is survived by nephews Robery Sherley Howell Jr. and James Blanton Howell and niece Alice Bacon “Lissy” Howell.
A graveside service will be in the Frankfort Cemetery at 11 a.m. on Friday and Rogers Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Memorial contributions can be made to the Salvation Army, the Franklin County Humane Society or Bluegrass Care Navigators.