Former West Virginia State Senator and House of Delegates member, Thais F. O’Donnell Blatnik, 96, passed away on Wednesday, December 9, 2015 in Wheeling, West Virginia.
Blatnik grew up in Weirton, the oldest of her sisters, Eileen Mrvos and the late Kay Charlton.
A graduate of her beloved West Liberty University, Blatnik earned her inquisitive nature, in part, while cutting her teeth as a reporter at the Weirton Daily Times, the Wheeling Intelligencer and as an editor for the Dominion Post.
During her journalism career Blatnik interviewed Presidents Kennedy, Ford and Roosevelt. As a result of her newspaper work in covering all phases of politics, her passion for asking tough questions led her to run for state office.
Blatnik spent 16 years at the statehouse fighting to dramatically improve the lives of all women and children. Often called “T” by her close friends and colleagues, Blatnik was honored during her service as Mental Health Directors Legislator of the year and recognized the by the West Virginia Association for the Developmentally Disabled for her faithful work helping children with exceptionalities. Blatnik also served as the executive director of the Wheeling Area Training Center for the Handicapped (WATCH).
While Blatnik stood only 5 feet tall, her presence was always known during her time representing the residents of the northern panhandle with her feisty spirit.
Senator Blatnik was married to the late Dr. Albert M. Blatnik for more than 48 years and paid tribute to him in a book titled, “Here’s Al” in which she shares stories of their life and love for family and their “fur-children.”
Thais is survived by her son, Floyd Shuler and his wife Patricia of Wheeling, West Virginia; daughter, Judy Shuler Luff and her husband William of Brevard, North Carolina; son, David Lloyd Shuler and his wife Shirley and their two children Dr. Franklin Shuler and Melissa Shuler of Weirton, West Virginia.
Senator Blatnik was called “Meme” by her grandchildren Karen Shuler Stakem and her husband Eric of Wheeling, West Virginia, Amy Shuler Goodwin and her husband Booth of Charleston, West Virginia and Ashlee Shawn Luff of Charlotte, North Carolina.
During their lives Thais and Al led their grandchildren across the country introducing them to exciting experiences.
Thais’ five great grandchildren Katie, Jack, Joe, Maggie and Sam were blessed to have a close relationship with “Meme” and they each benefited greatly from watching her engage in tough issues she cared about and receiving every birthday-a card adorned with her beautiful penmanship.