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Sydney Blanton: Entrepreneur, loving mother and friend

Sydney Lynn Blanton, a longtime Claremont resident and owner of the Village clothing boutique Amelie, died at home on January 6, 2016, surrounded by family. She was 55.

She was born in San Luis Obispo County on September 8, 1960. Her family moved to Covina when she was 10 years old and she attended schools in the Covina school district, graduating from Royal Oak High School in 1978. She studied at Cal State Fullerton and later at Mt. San Antonio College.

Ms. Blanton’s early career was spent working as an advertising rep for Inland Empire magazine, San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group, Harte-Hanks, Advo and then the Media Networks division of Time Inc.

After her tenure at Time, she pursued her dream of operating a women’s contemporary clothing store, which she managed in her adopted town of Claremont from 2002 until her passing. She and her husband Michael met in an office they both worked in and celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary this past October. Their daughter Emily was born in 1994.

Faith Ratner first met Sydney 30 years ago when she was applying for a job at Inland Empire magazine. She was encouraged to phone Ms. Blanton, who was working there. The call ended up lasting three hours.

“She was really engaging and lively and a beautiful soul inside and out. Her happiness with life just overflowed, and you immediately felt like you’d known her for an eternity,” Ms. Ratner said.

The fast friends were colleagues at the magazine for a time and later worked together at the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, where they served as automotive advertising account executives. They spent a great deal of time together and shared a memorable trip to France and Switzerland in 1992.

Ms. Ratner wasn’t surprised when Ms. Blanton left media to open a clothing shop. “She always was somebody who dressed impeccably and looked like a million bucks all the time, no matter what she had on,” she said.

Jenny Chabolla joined the staff of Amelie in 2008 and treasures the years she spent working with Ms. Blanton.

“Sydney was always very positive and she really just made it a fun place to work,” she said. “All the girls who worked there were able to form special relationships with Sydney and with each other. It was very much a family atmosphere.”

Ms. Chabolla has learned much from her employer. “There were reasons for every decision she made—why she      advertised in this magazine, why she did a certain window display, the way she merchandised the store,” she said. “She was really smart about all of those things.”

Ms. Blanton was ill for some time, but made a point of focusing on the shop and its customers when she was on the job. As a result, many people have been shocked to learn she’s gone.

“A lot of people are definitely feeling the loss,” Ms. Chabolla said. “Even people from our neighboring stores have come in with flowers and cards. We’re really going to miss her and her part in the community.”

Sydney’s passions in life included cooking, entertaining and keeping up with current trends, most notably in the fashion industry.

Brian Ofstedahl and Ruben Lopez count themselves among those fortunate enough to have been friends with Ms. Blanton. They met her through her husband Michael almost 10 years ago. Through the years, the couples loved to talk over long dinners, often prepared at home. Ms. Blanton and Mr. Lopez’s bond was cemented over a shared love of strolling through flea markets.

“Sydney was a remarkable example of courage, loyalty, friendship and family,” Mr. Lopez shared. “Her love and generosity will always be an inspiration for us.”

While she is deeply saddened by the loss, close friend Kathy Woodbury will try to take comfort in Ms. Blanton’s lasting impression.

“Syd lived in the present. Being around her was infectious, because she never took life for granted,” she said. “Her beauty, intelligence, wit and unconditional presence will be with me always.”

She is survived by her husband Michael, daughter Emily and her sister  and brother-in-law Alysia and Roger Dinneen.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, January 30 at 11 a.m. in the Kingman Chapel at Claremont United Church of Christ, 233 W. Harrison Ave. in Claremont. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the American Cancer Society.

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