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Dan Blankenship obituary: A legend and an inspiration

Dan Blankenship on The Curse of Oak Island
Dan Blankenship on The Curse of Oak Island. Pic credit: History

Legendary treasure-hunter Dan Blankenship died at the age of 95 on Sunday, March 17 in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Dan became known to millions of avid viewers in 2014 as the Oak Island legend who served as inspiration and adviser to Rick and Marty Lagina, the stars of the History Channel documentary reality series, The Curse of Oak Island.

“Dan was known as a pillar of strength to those around him and we will be forever grateful for the time we had with him,” the show’s Los Angeles-based production company, Prometheus Entertainment said.

Dan was featured on the enormously popular treasure-hunting show regularly over the course of its six seasons and Charles Barkhouse, an Oak Island historian and family friend, described Blankenship as a “living legend.”

“I mean, how often do you get to meet a treasure hunter?” Barkhouse recalled of his friend. “In truth he was much more than just a treasure hunter. He had a very full life.”

Prior to taking up full-time residence on the island, Dan lived in Florida where he ran a successful contracting business.

Before that he had served in the United States army in Europe during World War II, at one point seeing two friends — one on either side of him — killed.

He met wife Jane in New York after returning home before they moved to Miami during the 1950s, where they lived a mostly comfortable existence.

Everything changed in 1965 when Dan became fascinated with the idea of digging for treasure on the tiny Atlantic island off the south shore of Nova Scotia. His irresistible impulse was inspired by a Reader’s Digest story describing the mysterious island and the bounty rumored to lay buried beneath it.

“I handed the article over to my wife,” Dan said in a 2010 interview. When he told her to read it Jane Blankenship had no idea that those few pages would change their lives forever. “So what?” she said, to which the adventurous risk-taker said, “Well, No. 1, there’s treasure on Oak Island, and No. 2, I’m going to be instrumental in getting it.”

“He’s poured his blood, sweat and tears into that island trying to solve this mystery,” Barkhouse said.

Dan and his wife relocated to Nova Scotia in 1970, and he would devote the rest of his life to searching for the island’s fabled treasures rumored to include historical artifacts, pirate loot, and overflowing stores of gold and jewels.

After his arrival Dan threw himself into the kind of back-breaking, dirty, but necessary work required to unearth the hoped-for treasure. This included digging a cofferdam and slithering down infamous Borehole 10X in 1976, an incident in which he nearly perished.

The tributes that have poured in following Dan’s death attest to the grit and determination of a man imbued with a larger than life personality and exceptional sense of devotion and bravery.

Dan’s son David Blankenship, who lives on Oak Island with his wife Garnette, said that the family hope to have a memorial service for Dan sometime this week in Nova Scotia.

Tanya is a freelance writer, therapist and educator. The L.A. native was born at General Hospital, foreshadowing her obsession with writing about soaps, something that makes her... read more

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