LEONARD RAY BLANTON was born in Hardin County, Tennessee. He received a B.S. degree from the University of Tennessee in 1951.A businessman and a farmer, he was co-founder of the B&B Construction Company in Adamsville, Tennessee. Blanton was a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives (1965-1967) and the U.S. House of Representatives (1967-1972). While governor, Blanton created the first Department of Tourism in the United States. He served from 1976-1977 on the National Governors Association Executive Committee. Blanton was removed as governor amid allegations of selling pardons; he was later convicted on charges of mail fraud and conspiracy to sell liquor licenses and served 22 months in prison. He died on November 22, 1996, of kidney disease and is buried in Shiloh, Tennessee.