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Walnut Street Inn co-owner dies

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Walnut Street Inn co-owner Gary Blankenship died Nov. 10 of a heart attack, family members have announced.

A celebration of life is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. tomorrow at the 900 W. Walnut St. bed and breakfast, according to a Facebook post by Cat Vázquez, Gary’s daughter. His obituary posted to Greenlawn Funeral Home’s website does not list a date of birth, and Walnut Street Inn officials could not be reached for comment by deadline.

Gary and his wife, Paula, purchased Walnut Street Inn in July 1996 from Gary and Nancy Brown, who in 1987 turned the century-old house into a bed and breakfast, according to WalnutStreetInn.com. The website indicates Cat also has been involved in the operations.

The property was built in the mid-1890s by Charles McCann, co-founder of Springfield Grocer Co. Other former owners include Harry Jewell, who previously operated the Springfield News-Leader, according to Walnut Street Inn’s website.

Gary Blankenship also had past experience as president of the Historic Walnut Street Association, according to Springfield Business Journal archives. His LinkedIn profile indicates he also previously taught classes for aspiring innkeepers at Missouri State University.

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