Harold Blanshan

Obituary of Harold Wilson Blanshan

Harold Wilson (Doc) Blanshan, loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather died in the comfort of his home at age 98, on April 30, 2020, after a short illness. He was born to Peter and Hattie “Fern” (Russel) Blanshan on December 11, 1921, in Seymour, WI, the second youngest of six children: Russell, Grace, Dorothy, Ralph, Harold, and Jean.

Harold graduated from Seymour High School. He entered the army in 1940 and played French horn in the military band. In 1942, he entered the United States Army Air Forces, as a cadet. He trained and had a career as a pilot in the United States Army Air Forces (later established as the United States Air Force) spanning 32 years and three wars, WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He retired in Tucson, AZ, where he established a new career as a real estate appraiser for over 30 years.

Harold married Patricia Mary (Heenan) on November 26, 1949. They shared 54 years together until her death on June 14, 2004. He was also predeceased by his son Kevin. He is survived by his sister Jean (Mongin), son Peter (Marilyn Wolman), daughters Patricia, Priscilla (Ralls), daughter-in-law Molly Grezaffi, grandchildren Frank (Tara) Ralls, Emmy (Jerry) Stetson, Clarissa (Issac) Vasquez, Patricia (Collin) Plutz, ten great-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.

Who was Doc? His grandson writes, “He was so deeply devoted to his wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Though my grandmother has been gone for 15 years now, he would still cry at the mere mention of her name. She was his heart from the day he first met her. I like to think that at this moment they are locked in a hug that might last a minute.

He helped me learn to ride a bike and woke me up for Saturday morning cartoons. He’d take me on walks down the back road, along with the dog, Lucy. His great passion in life was golf. One could find him at the golf course bright and early every morning up until his 97th birthday; he then went only four or five days a week. His golf buddies knew him as Doc, and he felt golf was a game to not just enjoy, but upon which to continually improve. His great-grandchildren will carry with them the memory of their last visit with him when he turned 97; he took them to the course and gave them a golf lesson.

He’s been an inspiration to me, as a father, a husband, and a human being. His legacy inspires me to be resilient and tenacious. He was born before tv, civil rights, and space travel, when the radio was just becoming a household fixture. He passed as the world was fighting its first pandemic since the Spanish flu. He has always been ahead of his time, putting the needs of others first regardless of race or creed. He never bragged about the wartime medals. If any of the decisions he made as a ranking Air Force officer have had any lasting impact on our society (and I suspect they have), he’s never mentioned it. He always corrected me when he thought I might be acting in a selfish manner. He always has, and always will be a deep source of inspiration to me, and I still have much to learn from him.”

Dad, we love you for always seeing our potential, and for supporting us even when we couldn’t see it. We love you for loving mom with all your heart, and we love you for missing mom with all your heart. We love you for setting the bar so high, and for understanding when some couldn’t always reach that far. We love you for understanding change is inevitable, and for learning to cope when it happened. We love you for holding our family together, and for teaching us to be strong in the face of the unknown. How do we say goodbye to the heart and soul of our family? We choose not to; instead, we embrace your memory.

A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at a date to be determined. He wished tributes would be made in memory of Harold Blanshan to the St. Francis de Sales Youth Group. St. Francis de Sales Parish 1375 S. Camino Seco Tucson, AZ  85710-6513

The family would like to thank his good friend, Jamie, whose friendship this past year meant the world to Doc. We also would like to express our gratitude for all the well wishes, cards, prayers, and calls he received from so many family members and friends.

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