The ProBono Project - Profile: Walter E. Blessey, Jr.

Not a day goes by in New Orleans and the surrounding parishes that the power of water is not apparent. The Mississippi River, Lake Pontchartrain, the Gulf of Mexico and the hundreds of bayous, waterways and marshlands that surround Southern Louisiana are traversed by boats and ships of all sizes. Walter Blessey Jr. Walter E. Blessey, Jr.

And that is where this year's Justice for All Ball Honorary Chair, Walter Blessey, Jr. plays his biggest role. Mr. Blessey, Founder (1978), Chairman and CEO of Blessey Marine Services, Inc. has one of the youngest and largest multi-faceted fleets of inland tank barges and towing vessels in the world.

When you see a string of tank barges coming down the Mississippi, or cruising past on any of the dozens of rivers that criss-cross the eastern United States, chances are they belong to Mr. Blessey.

And, if you're still driving a round in a 'young classic car' from the 1990s, you may have bought it from one of the 13 automobile dealerships he once owned. It seems that transportation in many forms has played a huge part in Mr. Blessey's life and success as a businessman.

In a December, 2011 interview in My New Orleans, Mr. Blessey responded to a question about the philosophy that he adheres to in business with the following comment, "Create a company culture that is focused and centered around respect for the individual." Boat Christening Christening one on the River, March 2013.

If you look at his life beyond Blessey Marine, you will see that all of Mr. Blessey's endeavors focus on his 'respect for the individual.'

That philosophy has served him well, and so, it's no surprise that he accepted the challenge and the opportunity to serve The Pro Bono Project as this year's JFAB Honorary Chair, which celebrates the Ball's 25th Anniversary.

Like Mr. Blessey, the work of The Project centers around the philosophy of 'respect for the individual' and many times this is exactly what the pro bono services, which our volunteer attorneys provide, do for our clients: restore their respect - for themselves and their ability to move forward once their legal issues are resolved.

In keeping with his philosophy, Mr. Blessey has not only committed his personal time, but the wherewithal of his company, as well, in order to support The Project in our work by becoming the Presenting Sponsor. In keeping with this, the 2013 Ball will be identified as "The Pro Bono Project's Justice For All Ball presented by Blessey Marine Services, Inc."

Again, it should be no surprise, as he has raised countless dollars in support of Junior Achievement, St. Martin's Episcopal School, Children's Hospital and the Audubon Zoological Garden. He has served on the Board of Directors of Junior Achievement, the American Waterways Operators and numerous other community and business organizations.

He was inducted into the Louisiana Business Hall of Fame in 1999. In November, 2012 Mr. Blessey was honored by his high school alma mater, St. Martin's Episcopal School, with the highest award an alumni can receive, the Martin de Tours Award in recognition of his outstanding leadership and service to the community. (See story at The Bell, Fall 2012, page 29.)

Mr. Blessey is a graduate of Tulane University with a BS in Civil Engineering and from Tulane School of Law with a Juris Doctorate and has studied for an MBA at Tulane Graduate School. He has also attended the University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, Scotland) and the University of Washington as part of his university studies.

When not at work, he and his wife Jane Ann enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren, or traveling between their homes in metro New Orleans, the Gulf Coast and the West Coast.

The Pro Bono Project is honored to have Mr. Blessey serve as the 2013 JFAB Honorary Chair and grateful for the support of his company, Blessey Marine Services Inc. as our Presenting Sponsor to celebrate the Ball's 25th Anniversary.

There are many sponsorship opportunities for The Justice For All Ball and many area law firms and businesses are already on board. It's not to late to become a JFAB Sponsor, just email Rachel Piercey, Executive Director or call her at 504.581.4043 for additional information.

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