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Donnie Blanton, a veteran of the California produce industry, died unexpectedly in his sleep Dec. 2 at the age of 46. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Mr. Blanton started his produce career in the 1970s, working for his family's business, Bernardasci & Blanton in Salinas, which later became Blanton Produce Co. Upon graduating from California State University-Fresno in 1990, he joined Baloian Farms in Fresno, CA, working in sales until 2006. In 2006, Mr. Blanton started his own company, Blanton Consulting & Sales in Clovis, CA. blantonDonnie BlantonIn 2007, he was hired at Sunnyside Packing in Selma, CA, and continued there until August.

Tim Baloian, president of Baloian Farms, said that he watched Mr. Blanton develop from a young man right out of college into a true sales professional during his tenure at the company.

"Donnie was extremely passionate about the industry and was the kind of guy who would give 100 percent effort in everything he did," said Mr. Baloian. "He worked for me for 16 years and was our sales manager at the time he left in 2006. It's a huge loss, and I will miss him very much."

Mike Donovan of Donovan Produce Co. in Salinas, CA, who had known Mr. Blanton for 28 years and bought product from him while he was in sales at Baloian Farms, remembered him as "a good, solid guy in both business and family matters. He had a good way about him and always strove to do things right. He would follow a sale through from the beginning all the way to the end. But his family and his kids always came first."

Outside of produce, Mr. Blanton had a passion for baseball, which led him to coaching in the Clovis Babe Ruth program. A diehard fan of the San Francisco Giants, he especially enjoyed their recent success in capturing the World Series title.

Also an avid fisherman, Mr. Blanton was most at peace on the lake, especially Lake Almanor, with his family and the many fishing trips he shared with his late father-in-law, Steve Hailstone.

Mr. Blanton is survived by his wife of 25 years, Amanda; his daughter, Stephanie; his sons, Nicholas and Matthew; his parents, Donald and Billie Blanton; his grandfather, Bill Alexander; his brothers, Brian, Steve and Brett; his sisters, Melanie and Mikelea; his mother-in-law, Lenore Hailstone; and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces.

A funeral service was scheduled for Dec. 8 in Hollister, CA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Almanor Fishing Association or Clovis Babe Ruth Baseball. Donations may be sent c/o Grunnagle-Ament-Nelson Funeral Home.