Irene Julia Blanchard, 87, died on December 5, 2021 in St. Johnsbury, VT.
Irene was born in Bennington, VT on June 10, 1934 the daughter of John and Julia (Crosier) Blanchard. She attended a one room rural school for 7 years, then, with a couple of winters in Florida, finished at Bennington High School in 1952. She began her career as a home economist with a degree from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY which she attended on a full scholarship. After graduating in 1956 she worked for the West Penn Power Company and later moved to Cambridge, MA where she worked as a county extension agent.
In 1960, she joined the faculty of Garland Jr. College in Boston where she taught food and nutrition and found her calling in teaching. While Irene was there, she was part of a group of faculty who changed the philosophy of the college from a “girl’s school” where women were taught their roles to a women’s college where the emphasis was on self knowledge, self respect and preparation for a profession. While there she also learned she was a feminist. She and three colleagues created one of the first women’s study courses in the country. Garland offered her room for growth as well as friends and family. During her 16 years there she found herself interested more in people’s feelings than in food. She earned a Master’s Degree in counseling form Boston University and became the college counselor.
In 1976 financial difficulties caused Garland to be closed after 103 years. That precipitated Irene to return to her native Vermont where a one year appointment teaching at Lyndon State College turned into a 22 year teaching career. During those 22 years, she had a leave of absence to attend Syracuse University where she obtained her PhD in Social Sciences (1984). Irene became an advocate for women and was one of the founding mothers for Umbrella, was on the board of directors for Catamount Arts, was a great support for Northeast Kingdom Human Services and Osher.
Irene was an enthusiastic and frequent traveler. She visited Costa Rica, Brazil, India, Nepal, Greece, Europe, England, France, Austria, Germany, Scandinavian Countries, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Peru and Russia.
People wishing to give in her honor can do so at Catamount Arts, 173 Eastern Ave., St. Johnsbury, VT 05819; The Irene Blanchard Scholarship for rural VT kids, Development Office, Northern VT University, Lyndonville, VT 05159 or The American Cancer Society, New England Division, Inc, PO Box 3333, Montpelier, VT 05601.
A Celebration of Irene's Life will take place on Saturday, June 11, 2022 at 11am at the home of James and Sally Newell in Newark, VT. Please call 802-467-3555 for directions. A potluck will follow. All are welcome to attend.
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at www.guibordfh.com.