Obituary Notices

Shipyard Founder Johnny Bludworth Dies

John L. Bludworth,
John L. Bludworth III,

John L. “Johnny” Bludworth III, born July 9, 1943, in Houston, Texas, passed away peacefully at his home in Hockley, Texas, on May 15, with his wife of 43 years, Karla Bludworth, by his side, as well as his children. He was 78 years old.

Bludworth was preceded in death by his father, John L. “Jay” Bludworth II, his mother, Georgia Bludworth, and his stepson, Robert “Bob” Duensing.

Bludworth spent his life carrying on the legacy of his father and his father before him in the boat building and repair business, owning and operating successful shipyards along the Texas Gulf Coast. He started in 1955 when he began working summers for his dad and uncles as a helper at Bludworth Shipyard in Houston. He went on to start John Bludworth Marine Inc. in Pasadena, Texas, in 1975. He also helped his dad start a shipyard in Corpus Christi, Texas. He eventually purchased the yard in 1989. The Corpus Christi yard, now John Bludworth Shipyard LLC, is still running strong today under the leadership of Gasper D’Anna.

“Mr. Bludworth was not only the owner and CEO of our company, he was an exceptional leader and mentor, as well as a great friend to me,” D’Anna said. “I am fortunate to have worked for him and to be able to reap the benefits of his leadership, knowledge and experiences.

“He has been a part of my work and personal life for the last 25 years and will be sorely missed by me as well as all of the John Bludworth Shipyard team,” he added. “With the leadership and guidance he provided, we are poised to carry on his legacy in the shipyard for years to come.”

Bludworth is highly respected in the marine industry for his excellence in design, construction and quality craftsmanship of marine vessels. Many of these vessels are operating today and will continue to operate well into the future. One of the many towboats Bludworth designed is the mv. Raymond Butler.

“Johnny was a very kind man,” said Raymond Butler, a longtime leader in the maritime industry. “I will always remember him extending help when it was a matter of survival to me back in 1987 when I was just getting started. He let me take time to pay him for repairs to my boat, and that kept me in business.

“Over the many years, my boats were at the ‘Cotton Patch’ shipyard for work, and Johnny was always first to offer help,” Butler continued. “He had a gift for towboat design. His boats are still known as some of the best on the water by captains who have operated them.”

Not only was Butler’s namesake vessel, part of the Maritime Partners fleet, designed by Bludworth, it was also built at the Bludworth shipyard in Corpus Christi.

After selling his Pasadena and Galveston shipyards, Bludworth retired for a short time until he co-founded Republic Barge Transportation Company in 2001. He then sold this successful business a few short years later and retired again. He went on to invest in many business ventures, including being the organizer and director of The Right Bank for Texas N.A. in 2002.

Bludworth had a passion for sailing and canoe racing. He won the Texas Junior Sailing Championship at age 17. He won both Men’s Texas Sailing Championships at age 22. This was the first time one individual had won all three state titles, as well as winning two in one year. He also had a passion for hunting and fishing and enjoyed both sports with family, friends and business associates throughout his lifetime.