Blancharts to be Remembered  
Friday, May 25, 2012

WEBSTER X The time-line might be a bit out of sync, from this Memorial Day to June 26, but our thoughts are with some fine people who will travel from Florida to be at Joseph's Garden of Peace Cemetery in Webster on the last Tuesday in June.

So, for Capt. Leonard Blanchart, who died at 82 years of age on June 29, 2009, and his wife, Eleanor (Zukowski) Blanchart, who died at 80 years of age on Aug. 23, 2011, it will be a coming in eternity to the hallowed surroundings of their early lives, and just about three years after Mr. Blanchart's death.

There's always an attempt to remember Memorial Day through this corner, but this year, reverence falls to contemporaries, people whom a lot of us knew in everyday life. Certainly, Capt. Blanchart's cousins, John Jack Gardecki of Dudley, and Norman J Deptula of Webster, and probably others, bring Blanchart family knowledge from an early time; so it seemed unlikely that Missy Pierce, one of the Blanchart daughters, should turn in my direction.

It turned out, she had an earlier generation in mind, that of her paternal grandparents, Louis J. Blanchart, a longtime circulation manager for the Morning Telegram and The Evening Gazette; and his wife, Helen (Nierodzinski) Blanchart, shading to a time when her late father became a merchant marine captain. Jack Gardecki made the introductions.

Ms. Missy was here visiting her aunt, Barbara Pietruszka of Dudley. Her memories of Grandma Helen matched to everything grandmothers are supposed to be. This was nice because Helen Blanchart was always a fill-in member of the Webster-Dudley circulation team, but, more importantly, was a great friend to many.

Grandpa Louis talk was mostly confirmation of his newspaper delivery programs, dedication to veterans' causes, concern for the carriers who linked the newspapers to subscribers in the towns, and his public service commitments, like police patrols on Webster Lake before the department had a boat of its own. There were other issues that probably filled blanks in the family's work history, even to Len Blanchart's contributions as a high school student.

The Blanchart story is really about a merchant seaman whose independent studies brought 12 years as a sea captain for the Farrell Lines, and subsequent service as a river pilot on the St. Johns Rivcr in Florida. The follow is about Capt. Blanchart and his wife, Eleanor, the businesses they cultivated, the investments they nurtured, their many charities, particularly the center they built for L'Arch Harbor, a program for handicapped adults, and their endowments from 1989 to the University of North Florida.

By 2008, when the Webster natives added $1 million to their UNF help accounts, their gifts had reached $2.25 million. Twenty-seven Blanchart-financed students had graduated from North Florida, and another 13 were enrolled in the college at that time.

This was possible because Leonard and Eleanor decided to forgo the trappings of wealth to help young people who couldn't afford to go to college. So, the endowment-makers never had a fancy yacht, but they gained the goodwill of boys and girls they actually helped and welcomed as family.

Capt. Leonard and Mrs. Blanchart were survived by two daughters, Missy Pierce and Stacie Fendenhein; five grandchildren; a geat-grandchild; and others in their separate families. The Garden of Peace ceremony on June 26 will be at 11 a.m., followed by a luncheon at the Point Breeze Restaurant.

The Rev. Joseph Marcotte, pastor of St. Louis Church in Webster for nearly 28 years, will be transferred to another parish as of June 30.

We're among the many who remember Father Marcotte's first weekend at St. Louis, and offer gratitude for his good deeds and guidance.

When Jeanne and I went to Webster Town Hall to vote in the town elections just before 10 a.m. May 7, the Precinct 1 voting machine malfunctioned, as in it didn't work.

We inserted our ballots and the machine rejected them, as in no dice. Town Clerk Robert T. Craver was quick to respond, along with a couple of guys neither of us knew.

A discovery followed: There's a slide on the left side of the machines where not-counted ballots can be stored. Ours went in there.

The repair crew gathered about, checkers remained in place, others waited their turn at the dead machine, and things got tight, so we left, confident the town clerk would ultimately get our ballots processed.

It seems, though, that my write-ins were overlooked. They might not have mattered, though official ballots allow for expressions of choice.

Unless it's already formed, a list of Election Day problems ought to be posted for the benefit of candidates. There'd probably be more recounts.

-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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