William Blackmon, developer of carpet-cleaning system, dies at 92

Posted Tuesday, Jun. 18, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
Service 11 a.m. today at University Christian Church in Fort Worth

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William Gipson Blackmon Jr., who helped develop the Steamatic carpet-cleaning system and built a company from a dirt-floored rented building into a nationwide post-catastrophe restoration business, died Thursday. He was 92.

In 1948, Mr. Blackmon started an upholstery-cleaning business with his friend Scott Mooring Jr., a fellow TCU graduate and World War II Navy veteran. The two worked with inventor Bill Wisdom to develop and patent the first steam carpet-cleaning machine in the late 1960s.

Mooring, who died in May 2004, sold his interest in Blackmon Mooring to Mr. Blackmon in 2002.

Still owned and operated by Mr. Blackmon’s children, Blackmon Mooring has offices in the United States, but its teams respond to disasters all over the world, son Greg Blackmon said.

“Our catastrophe team is called to do disaster cleanups from a copper mine explosion in the Andes in Chile to a plane that crashed into a building in Venezuela,” he said. “Last year, 30 percent of our work was international. We’re still working in New York on cleaning up after Sandy.”

William Gipson Blackmon was born Nov. 7, 1920, on a farm near Springtown. His father was a state representative. He was reared by several aunts and uncles, ending up in Fort Worth with his bootlegging uncle Lon, Greg Blackmon said.

Mr. Blackmon distinguished himself as a football player at North Side High School, where his 6-foot-5-inch frame earned him the nickname “Floppy.” He went to TCU on a football scholarship and played for two years, but because of his height — he was the tallest athlete at TCU — he was talked into joining the basketball team. He was a three-time letterman from 1941 to 1943.

It was there that he met Genevieve Able, whom he married in 1944, not long before he shipped out to the Pacific to serve in the Navy during World War II.

Devoted to TCU, the Blackmons were named Most Valuable Alumni in 1994, and Mr. Blackmon was inducted into the TCU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002.

Other survivors include sons Bill Blackmon and Kirk Blackmon; 11 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

Terry Evans, 817-390-7620 Twitter: @fwstevans

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