PLANNED GIVING SPOTLIGHT: Bob Blakewood '54 gives ultimate legacy gift to BC

By Noell Barnidge
Mr. Bob Blakewood, Benedictine Military School Class of 1954, and his wife of 62 years, Carolyn, recently made the ultimate legacy gift. They are two of the newest members of the 1902 Heritage Society, which recognizes those who have remembered the school in their will or estate plans.

There are now 75 members of the 1902 Heritage Society. CLICK HERE to view the membership list. The first 100 families will be recognized as Founding Members of the 1902 Heritage Society and we would like to reach that number by the end of 2023.

A planned future gift is one that designates a portion of an individual’s estate as a donation to a nonprofit. Planned gifts enable individuals to create a powerful philanthropic legacy by making a direct impact on the causes that are important to them. The 1902 Heritage Society recognizes those who have made a commitment to Benedictine through a planned gift, through bequests (gifts by will), life insurance policies, and life income gifts (annuities and trusts).

“At some point in time you feel like you have to give back,” said Blakewood, an 86-year-old great-grandfather and cancer survivor. “Or at least that’s my feeling. As I’ve said, God has been good to us. The material things that we have. Basically, our status in life, our health, and so on and so forth.”

A lifelong Catholic, Blakewood grew up attending parochial schools.

“I initially started out at Sacred Heart School in the first grade,” he said. “My mother was a divorced parent, so I was single child. Mother was a registered nurse. Worked at what then at that time was Union Bag in the first aid department. Then it became Union Camp. Now it’s International Paper. Second grade, with her working shift work and for lack of someone to take care of me, I went off to boarding school. I attended St. Leo Hall in Belmont, N.C., from the second to the fourth grade. We would form up in the morning and walk over to Sacred Heart Academy, which was an all-girls Catholic grammar school/high school, and it, too, was a boarding school. And then Belmont Abbey, which is now Belmont Abbey College, at that time was a high school. Three of my aunts went to Sacred Heart Academy as young girls, and one uncle went to Belmont Abbey, the high school, as a young man. My family was familiar with that.”

Blakewood then moved to Rutherford, N.J., where he attended St. Mary High School.

“My mother remarried when I was probably 10 years old,” he said. “Married a Yankee fella that had been in the Army, that she met while he was at Fort Stewart. Eventually, I moved to Rutherford, N.J., and went to St. Mary’s Catholic School. My mother was pregnant and when it came time for the baby to be born, she wanted to come back to Savannah because she had worked with Dr. Oliver here and wanted him to deliver those infants. After the delivery, she went back north. I stayed with my grandparents. To be perfectly honest, never really achieved harmony with my stepfather. His New York culture and my Southern culture just never blended. They never blended. I mean, I got along, but that’s the most I can say for that. That brought me back to Savannah and, ultimately, to Blessed Sacrament, and from there to Benedictine, and from there to the University of Georgia, and then into the forestry profession as a forester with a pulp and paper company.”

Blakewood earned a bachelor’s degree in forest management. His first job after UGA was with the Georgia Kraft Company in Macon. He lived in Talbotton.

“Stayed two years,” he said. “I just felt like there was something else out there for me. One of the fellas in management who had worked there with me had left and gone to work for the Florida Forest Service. After a period of time, he got back in touch with me and said, ‘Would you be interested in going to work for the Florida Forest Service?’”

Blakewood moved to Lakeland, Fla., and went to work as a farm forester. His coverage area included five counties: Hardee, DeSoto, Highlands, Indian River, and St. Lucie. He spent two years doing that until an opportunity arose as a wood procurement forester.

“Really didn’t have any intent to leave,” he said. “I would also assist the land owners in contacting pulp and paper industry that were working in wood procurement. They were trying to bid on timber these land owners wanted to sell. A fella by the name of Craig Bell, who was working for a container corporation, befriended me. At a point in time, he said, ‘Bob, we’re getting ready to add a second paper machine up in Fernandina (Beach, Fla.), and we want to add another forester here in the south end of the state. He said, ‘It would be a natural for you because all these people that you’ve been working with, you’d be able to go back to them, and you’ve already got a relationship with them, and purchase timber that they might want to sell that we can send to Fernandina (Beach).’ So I filled out an application, interviewed, and got the job.”

Blakewood continued to work in Lakeland for a number of years before eventually moving to Starke, Fla., where he worked for Container Corporation of America. He moved back to Savannah in 1978 and worked in real estate before opening Appraisal and Consulting Group, a real estate appraisal firm in Savannah.

“A fella who I now have working in conjunction with me enticed me to open up an appraisal firm,” he said. “Wayne said to me, ‘Bob, why don’t you open up a company and let me come and work for you?’ And I said, ‘Wayne, I’m 70 years old. I don’t need to do this.’ He said, ‘Yeah, but you’ve got deep pockets. You can do this.’ I thought about it for a time and I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll go ahead and do this.’ That’s how I opened up this appraisal firm. Still have it.”

Blakewood and Carolyn are parents to two daughters (SVA grads), Lori B. Ogden and Lisa B. Aliotta. Lisa’s son, Brenton Aliotta, is a 2018 Benedictine graduate and is majoring in business at UGA. Blakewood said he will leave money to several organizations but Benedictine Military School is at the top of his list.

“The Benedictine family has been good to us,” he said. “The camaraderie over here (at BC) is unlike anything else that I know of. When I was at (the University of) Georgia, I had friends but not as close as what I had at BC. It was more than friends. It was more like brothers. In my class, there were 52 of us. And I think we’re down to 12. There’s nine or 10 of us that still live here in Savannah. BC means a lot to me not only because of the education that I acquired but because of the fellowship and friendships that I acquired; the people in my class, those ahead of me, and those behind me. There are a lot of long-lasting friendships that I’ve made. BC is just a bond that lasts.”

Visit to learn more about the 1902 Heritage Society.