Gerald Blanchard, a participant in 19 Bassmaster events and winner of the second-ever B.A.S.S. tournament in 1967, passed away Wednesday at his home in North Port, Fla.
Formerly of Memphis, Tenn., Blanchard was 75.
“He was just an all-around good guy,” said B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott. “He was one of the original 106 who fished my very first tournament out on Beaver Lake in 1967. He was one of the pioneers.”
Blanchard won the 1967 Dixie Invitational on Alabama’s Smith Lake, finishing first in a top five that included legendary pro angler and television star Bill Dance, longtime Lake Seminole marina owner Jack Wingate, fellow angling pioneer and co-owner of Strike King Lure Company Ray Murski and world-famous lure designer Tom Mann.
He went on to score six Top 10 finishes, remaining active on the professional circuit until 1974. He returned briefly for an event in 1979 and again in 1992 for the Bassmaster 25th Anniversary Tournament on Beaver Lake in Arkansas.
A U.S. Air Force veteran and an avid pilot, Blanchard owned and operated Bay Breeze Boat Rentals in Englewood, Fla., for many years.
According to his obituary from Roberson Funeral Home and Crematory in Port Charlotte, Fla., he is survived by his wife of 48 years, Brenda; two sons, Joseph Blanchard of Ft. Myers, Fla., and Jason Blanchard of Estero, Fla.; a sister, Star Milton of Baton Rouge, La.; a brother, Bennett Blanchard, and three grandchildren, Justin, Preston and Gavin.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at a date to be determined by Blanchard’s family.