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Claremont Courier - A Local Nonprofit Newsroom

Mary Elizabeth Blanchard

Loving matriarch, librarian, Lakers fan

Longtime Claremont resident Mary Elizabeth Briggs Blanchard died peacefully in her sleep on November 18, 2014 at Mt. San Antonio Gardens in Claremont. She was 105.

She was born in Valparaiso, Indiana on October 5, 1909. She graduated from DePauw University in 1931 and later received an advanced degree in library science from the University of Michigan in 1950. She married William G. “Doc” Blanchard in 1932 and in 1936 they moved to Claremont when Doc accepted a position as professor of music at Pomona College. They had three children, William, Mildred and Margaret.

Mrs. Blanchard worked several years as librarian at Honnold Library and then as librarian at Claremont High School for 18 years. When the new high school was built, she was very involved in the design of the new circular library. She enjoyed many activities over the years: hosting family gatherings, keeping up with her immediate and extended family, entertaining college visitors, listening to music, sewing, traveling, reading and following the Lakers. Every Christmas Eve, for over 35 years, until Doc’s death in 1978, Mary Elizabeth welcomed friends, relatives and Claremont residents into her home to sing Christmas carols accompanied by Doc on the three-manual Möller pipe organ that had been installed in the home in 1941.

Mrs. Blanchard moved into Mt. San Antonio Gardens in 1987 where, until recently, she had been active in a variety of Gardens committees and activities. As her mobility declined, she was blessed by frequent visits and phone calls from family and friends. Most notably, Arlene Blanchard came regularly for lunch; granddaughter Debbie Nelsen brought supper once a week; grandson Rusty Blanchard came each weekend with his tablet computer to amaze his grandmother with all it could do; and Ray and Barbara Fowler visited regularly, bringing flowers and tending to her plants and garden.

On Mary Elizabeth’s 105th birthday, friends and relatives joined her for a wonderful celebration of her life by presenting her with small tokens to remind her of what she meant to them. They were then hung on a Manzanita branch that had been a centerpiece of family gatherings for many years.

Mrs. Blanchard was predeceased by her son William. She is survived by her two daughters, Mildred Blakeley (Robert) of Brisbane, Australia and Margaret Nelson (Jim) of Chatfield, Minnesota; by one daughter-in-law, Arlene Blanchard of Alta Loma; and by 10 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren. There will be no services.

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