Former FBI agent passes away at 76 | Athens, GA
James Thomas Blasingame was known as many things — a runner, an FBI agent and most importantly, a husband and father.
Blasingame, 76, died Tuesday. He left behind a legacy of devotion to his family and service to his country.
The former FBI agent joined the organization in 1954 and graduated from Benjamin Franklin University four years later. While working in Washington, D.C., he met his wife, Alma, who worked as a clerk with the FBI.
The couple married just up the street from the White House and remained together for 55 years.
“My brother said that the word that described Jim was ‘faithfulness’,” said Alma Blasingame. “He was faithful to his family, faithful to his relatives and to his employers.”
To honor his memory, friends, family and neighbors in their Lake Wellbrook neighborhood recently tied white ribbons onto mailbox posts.
“They all loved him so much,” Alma said. “He was always here for us for anything and everything.”
While working with the FBI, Blasingame conducted background checks on U.S. Rep. Gerald R. Ford before he was named vice president in 1973. He served as a special agent in numerous areas of the country, including Buffalo, N.Y.; New York City, Monterey, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; and Newark, N.J.
Among the many cases that Blasingame worked on was the 1983 shootout with Gordon Kahl — a top 10 fugitive and an anti-tax protester. Kahl was killed in the shootout, as was a sheriff that accompanied Blasingame.
The case and shootout sparked a made-for-TV movie, “In the Line of Duty: Manhunt in the Dakotas,” for NBC in 1991.
Blasingame became a certified fraud examiner in 1988, according to the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI. Blasingame also led investigations against such groups as the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis.
When not working, a favorite pastime for Blasingame was running, something he did every day, said his wife.
“Every morning between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m., he went out and ran at least four or five miles,” Alma said. “That’s what kept him with us. The doctor said it kept him with us longer. It kept his heart beating so long.”
Blasingame was gearing up to run his 37th consecutive 10K Peachtree Road Race. According to Alma, he ran four marathons in his lifetime, as well as many 5K and 10K races. His last race took place this past March.
“Being in the FBI, they had to keep physically fit for their job,” Alma said.
Blasingame’s other activities included serving as a board member of The Touchdown Club of Athens and as security director for the University of Georgia Lettermen’s Club.
“He loved the Georgia Bulldogs,” Alma said. “He wanted to do everything for everybody. We could all count on him day and night.”
In addition to Alma, Blasingame is survived by his son, James II; daughter-in-law Rebecca; daughter Rhonda B. McClure; granddaughters Ellen McClure, Stephanie Wilson and Brandee Wilken; grandson Andrew McClure; and great-grandsons Aidan and Ellison Wilken.