Tony Blankley
(1948 - 2012)

Tony Blankley

United Kingdom
January 21, 1948

United States of America
January 7, 2012

Family, politics, history, reading, writing, animals, golf, traveling
Anthony David “Tony” Blankley

Excerpt reprinted with permission from the Washington Times.

Tony Blankley, a noted conservative commentator, Ronald Reagan speechwriter and former editorial page editor of The Washington Times, died late Saturday (January 7th, 2012), leaving a legacy of significant analysis that bridged politics and culture with finesse, optimism and a sense of history. He was 63 and had been battling stomach cancer.

At the time of his death, Tony was an executive vice president of the Edelman public relations firm in Washington, a visiting senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation think tank, a syndicated newspaper columnist and an on-air political commentator and contributor for CNN, Fox, NBC and NPR.

Tony is survived by his wife Lynda, three children (Ana, Trevor, and Spencer), his mother, Beatrice Blankley, and a sister, Maggie Blankley.

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Guest Book (47 entries)
Missed your wit and wisdom this bizarre if entertaining election year.
John Knoerle (friend)
November 8th, 2016
My sister Tara and I were at CPAC two weeks ago, and we're blessed to have Mrs. Blankley at the next table. After a lovely tribute to Tony by a dear friend , I felt compelled to say how sad we were for the loss of her amazing husband. Mrs. Blankley was so gracious and welcoming that I felt like an old friend . I did not want to intrude, but she understood how much those of us that did not know Tony personally, still loved him as a dear friend! Thank you for being so kind to me. God Bless Tony and his wonderful family.
Madonna Piper (Admirer)
February 17th, 2012
Washington just got a little more beige. Tony Blankley—pundit, political strategist and, most famously, former press secretary to then- House Speaker Newt Gingrich through triumph and disgrace in the 1990s—died Saturday night of stomach cancer, two weeks short of his 63d birthday.

A man of impressive intellect, appetites and personal style, Blankley knew and loved history and literature. He was beautifully spoken, with a whiff of a British accent acquired from his birth in London and strategically retained in Hollywood, where his expat father was a well-placed studio accountant and little Anthony was a child actor. He would grow up to become a Republican, a California prosecutor and a Reagan political appointee. But it was working for Gingrich that put Blankley on the power map—and frequently at odds with the press--until ethics woes forced the speaker to resign in 1997.

The spokesman became a columnist and editorialist for the Washington Times. This master of the pithy sound bite—he was, after all, an actor and a litigator--also became a gifted TV talking head, spiking his gravitas with spot-on levitas. By 2007 he’d gone corporate as an Edelman public relations executive vice president.
What else about Tony Blankley?

*That however partisan he might be in public, he tried not to let ideology poison a friendship. “He was one of the people who represented the old Washington, where you could be friends across the political divide,” said Democratic consultant Bob Shrum, a frequent TV sparring partner and longtime pal.

*That as a kind of gentleman farmer in Great Falls, Va., Blankley oversaw a menagerie that includes horses, peacocks, llamas and chickens, as well as cats and dogs. (An Edelman tech would visit Blankley’s home once a year to remove animal hair from his computer.)

*That his wife, lobbyist Lynda Davis, then a U.S. Navy Reserve captain, was ordered to Bosnia in 1995 for nine months and would have to leave her husband and a pair of young sons, until she became too ill to go; and that they later went to Russia to adopt their daughter.

*That Blankley was an avid cook who liked his cuisine plentiful and picante. Even when stomach surgery drastically limited his intake earlier this year, he would not give up the fellowship of the table. In November, per tradition, he cooked Thanksgiving dinner for 22, never mind that he would only be allowed a few morsels.
At his last meal with Shrum, at Equinox near the White House some months back, “Tony had a quarter of a glass of wine and a half a cup of soup, but he was quite insistent that I have a full dinner.”

*That he was an unreconstructed dandy with a bespoke wardrobe from a Washington tailor who, over time, created suits in several sizes to accommodate Blankley’s yo-yo weight loss regimes. “There was Big Tony and Diet Tony,” said Rob Rehg, president of Edelman’s Washington office. He remembers the day his friend totally dissed the brown suit worn by a stranger on the street. “And there was Tony, wearing some very loud yellow suit and he looked like a huge ice cream cone.”

In fact, it seems as if everyone I talked to had a Blankley story involving food, including Washington Post political writer Karen Tumulty. Back in 1994, a month after Gingrich masterminded the House Republican takeover for the first time in 40 years, she and Blankley had dinner in Cincinnati.

“He was simultaneously smoking, drinking whiskey and cutting into a huge piece of beef, and I asked him if he had ever given up a bad habit. He thought about it for a moment, and then told me, “Yes, when I was a prosecutor, I gave up drunk driving.”
My favorite meal with Tony came at Teatro Goldoni on K Street in the summer of 2008. I’d taken a Post buyout that May and sought some career advice from him and Frank Kauffman, an Edelman colleague I’d known for years.

“So you want to check out the dark side?” Blankley asked gently, knowing some reporters can’t bear the though of jumping from news to P.R. The meal developed a rhythm: Discuss each dish in detail--asparagus, pasta, veal and, if memory serves, a sinful dessert—between questions about what I really, really, really wanted to do next. By the time the check came, we both knew it was not public relations.
“Do what you love. That’s my advice.”

Lord knows, Tony Blankley surely did.

By Annie Groer
Annie Groer (Washington Times Blog)
February 16th, 2012
Spencer Blankley Tribute – Anthony Blankley Memorial Service
February 1, 2012 – Washington, D.C.

Thank you Mom, Trevor, Ana and Maggie (Tony's sister) for allowing me to represent the family today.

To the people who made this beautiful service possible -- especially those at Edelman and The Washington Times -- we are indebted to you; my father would have been supremely honored. And to all those who have supported us with their love, thoughts and acts of kindness, we are blessed and grateful.

Of all the gifts my father had to share, I will remember him foremost as someone who lived positively. Appreciative of this fleeting time we are given, he eschewed solipsism and cynicism, and in his fashion, focused on what he could do practically. He knew what was important to him -- family, friends, country, truth -- and pursued them with optimistic passion.

As a father and husband he was gentle and kind -- generous with his time, and generous with his love. It was clear how much he adored you, Mom. You and dad really do make a great team, and together you showed us children that love is real and lasting.

Continuing the tradition he inherited from his brilliant and musical father Jack Blankley and his beloved, equally accomplished mother Trixie, he held an exceptional regard for education. In the days before the internet, we would frequent the Oxford English Dictionary or Encyclopedia Britannica, as he had in his home growing up.

He had so much to teach us explicitly and implicitly. Foremost, a meticulous honesty; a serious attention to the formation of opinions and the meaning of words; and an expectation of self-discipline, personal responsibility, and sacrifice.

He didn't tell us how to live but supported each of us in our journeys. As we got older he delighted in having more areas of life to share and converse about. In our talks, I would often play political devil's advocate, mostly for the fun of hearing him counter each of my points with alacrity. If I disagreed with him, my first assumption was that I was missing something...Although I never felt I had to earn his love I liked to impress him, because he was a person worth impressing. I was a son always in awe of his father.

As a man, there was so much to admire about him. He had an inner drive based on curiosity rather than vanity; he displayed the equanimity of a clear conscience; he was a discreet and loyal friend.

He possessed a flexible intelligence that allowed him to turn his attention to any topic and be able to contextualize, synthesize connections, and distill the essential.

Intelligence is not itself a virtue, but he wielded it with purpose. In helping to shape public attitudes, he strove to drive policy that would strengthen the country he loved. He didn't argue for the sake of winning, but to defend ideas he believed were right. He knew when to compromise and when to take a stand.

His intellect was bolstered by a hunger for knowledge and new understanding. A voracious reader with good retention, he was a great store of knowledge. When I was feeling particularly entitled, I would ask him about a historical event and sit back for a leisurely lecture -- I always had to stop him, as he could speak effortlessly and endlessly.

He had so much substance, he would have been excused for lacking style -- if he had. Ever the sartorial gourmet, when he took me shopping for my first suit he instructed me on the proper cut of trouser. I told him the fact that he called them trousers worried me...but he knew what he was talking about.

Our golf outings were a great venue for his dry wit. In a more recent round he commented that his hip was hurting, but luckily he didn't use it in his swing…

A lover of art and beauty, he was a man who enjoyed the flavors and aromas of life and was continually appreciative of his blessings, reflecting that he was lucky to have always been able to do what he wanted professionally.

He wasn't inclined to feel sorry for himself, and in many ways sickness was his finest hour. If adversity reveals character, it hadn't been hiding very well, for he faced illness with the same grit and resoluteness he displayed throughout his life and which he sought in others. In extreme pain, he never took it out on other people. When it was easiest to be self-centered, he was at his most selfless. A supreme gentleman through and through.

We wanted more time to pay him back for all he had done for us, but his love didn't come with conditions.

I will miss his natural smile; his affection for us and the animals; seeing him under his favorite tree reading -- soaking up more knowledge, soaking up life.

His work is done but his model continues -- in his writings, in our memories of him, and to the extent we reflect his example.

I will miss him. That I had the privilege of calling him father is one of the great honors of my life.
Spencer Blankley (Son)
February 1st, 2012
Lynda Davis Tribute – Anthony Blankley Memorial Service
January 21, 2012 – Great Falls, VA

Thank you God for tears and laughter and for family and friends to share them with. Thank you all for being here with us today. If this service gets a little long, please bear with us, our Toni’s life was way too short and there is so much to celebrate about him.

Thank you my dearest Trevor and Ana. Your words are the best testament your father could receive. And thank you dearest Spencer for helping me so thoughtfully with this program and by representing our family with your tribute at your father's Memorial service on February 1st at the National Cathedral.

You three were truly your father's greatest treasures. I will forever give thanks that you had so many special times with him, especially together at the farm during these last two years. He loved and admired the unique strengths and talents each of you posses and your faithfulness to your own interests and dreams. He respected the honorable character you each already manifest. You have and will make him very proud of who you are and how you make this world a better place.

I also want to recognize other treasured loved ones who are not here today because of their own death or regrettable distance but who were much, much beloved by your father. Daddy's brilliant and musical father Jack Blankley and his beloved, equally accomplished and giving mother Trixie who together gave us the example of 72 years of marriage. What a wonderful heritage they bestowed.

His dear, talented sister and vigilant advocate Maggie and her precious love David, our families' Superman. My wonderful entrepreneurial father Frank Davis, who was adored by my steadfast hugging mother Mary for 62 years. And my brothers, sister-in-law, niece, nephew, and dearest West Coast friends who got to share love with our Tony.

Today is Tony's birthday and I would like to take just a few minutes to toast the man, the husband, the father, and the friend that we was. To toast his character:

His passion for the strong flavors and aromas of life
His boldness of dress and sense of style and flair
His wit and whimsy and his bemused and humorous chuckles
His love of beauty and music and grace

His utter intolerance for cruelty and his distain for rudeness and vulgarity
His gentlemanly manner to male and female alike
His ever welcoming hospitality to friends and beloved Sady Way neighbors
His politeness to foe even in the heat of political battles
His sweet softness and compassion for animals

His serious attention to the consequences of opinions and the meaning of words
His incredible memory for facts and dates
His ability to make the historical a relevant and necessary teacher
His commitment to speaking only the truth or remaining silent
His honor of his word above all else
His interest in our interests
His support of our explorations and adventures
His respect for our differing beliefs and his own faith journey
His love and dedication to family and friends, and
His enduring commitment to our freedom and this beloved country.

I toast you my dearest Tony! I have nothing but thankfulness to offer God for the unexpected, and surely undeserved, blessing of our love which grew, deepened and widened into unshakable respect and cherished admiration over 30 years of sharing and 27 years of marriage. At any size, you were my partner, my completion.

We loved our life together because we knew how precious, and yes how precarious and unpredictable, it truly was. We knew we had each fallen into more grace and goodness than we could ever deserve and we lived gratefully. Even in these toughest years of illness, we would try to lift each other at the end of every day. To say good night not with fear and worry but with a kiss of encouragement and an affirmation for all we had been able to share and who we were able to love.

Happy birthday my darling Tony. I am so heartened and touched that God gave you the gift that you loved so - a snowy night. I can see you rushing to the store for provisions in hopes that we would indeed get snowed in and cloistered away from the hustle in the shelter of Our Three Swallows Farm and the company of family, furry friends and our dear Sady Way neighbors.

You are in that company of family, friends and neighbors now my love and I believe you are in the very presence of the God of all creation. Say hello to our dear fathers and wait for us each in turn as we live out the dignity of our destiny as you so truly, surely, brilliantly, and honestly did during your all to short time with us here on earth.
Lynda Davis (Wife)
February 1st, 2012
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"Words cannot express how very much I appreciated listening when Tony Blankley spoke. He was a brilliant and courageous man, and this freedom-loving man will be sorely missed. May God bless his family with peaceful hearts."
Anonymous Anonymous
January 13th, 2012
"So sorry for your loss. You will be in our thoughts and prayers! May you find peace in your time of sorrow and know that he is watching over you and will always keep you safe!"
Catina Catina
January 13th, 2012
"My sincerest sympathy to Tony Blankley's family in your loss. I am sorry he was taken from you much too soon. I enjoyed watching him on TV and his gentle smile. May you be surrounded by love at this time."
C. Robert , Northern Virginia
January 13th, 2012
"We will be praying for Tony and his family during this very difficult time. We are saddened at the loss of this good man. There are too few which remain. May he stay nearby, just beyond this physical/visible world."
Helen Rainey
January 13th, 2012


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