Rodney J. Blonien, a Capitol lobbyist for gambling interests who previously oversaw expansion of state prisons as a top Deukmejian administration official, died March 13 of an apparent heart attack at his Elk Grove home, his family said. He was 65.
Mr. Blonien was well-known at the Capitol as a public servant and lobbyist for 40 years. He started as a deputy attorney general in 1972 and was assistant legal affairs secretary to Gov. Ronald Reagan. He was a senior assistant to Attorney General George Deukmejian.
After Deukmejian was elected governor in 1982, Mr. Blonien served two years as the governor's liaison to the Legislature. He was appointed undersecretary of the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency in 1984 to direct construction of new state prisons.
Since 1987, he worked as a top lobbyist for the horse-racing industry, card club owners and other groups. He opened his own firm, Rodney J. Blonien and Associates, in 1997. He previously lobbied for law-enforcement workers as executive director of the California Peace Officers Association from 1975 to 1979.
Mr. Blonien was born in 1946 in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. He graduated from the University of San Francisco in 1968 and earned a law degree from Santa Clara University in 1971.
He married his wife, Noreen, in 1967 and had lived in Elk Grove since 1974. He was a captain in the Army Reserve.
Besides his wife, he is survived by his sons, Ryan of Longview, Wash., and Jarhett of Elk Grove; daughters, Jessica of Sacramento and Molly Bisbiglia of Carmichael; sister, Jane of San Francisco; brother, Scott of Tenino, Wash.; and 11 grandchildren.
A funeral Mass was held March 16. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Bishop Gallegos Maternity Home, www.bgmh.org; Jesuit High School Scholarship Endowment Fund, www.jesuithighschool.org; or Project R.I.D.E., www.projectride.org.