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Blanche Loretta Proul, Lt. Colonel USAF retired, peacefully passed Sept. 21, 2023 with her brother Ron and sister in law Nadean by her side. Blanche resided at New Horizons Assisted Living, lovingly cared for by a great staff and so loved by the other residents.
Born to Victor and Bertha Proul in Augusta, MT on July 25, 1928, Blanche was the eldest of six children, who often times described herself as "a child of the great depression", that helped mold her to be “tenacious” which best describes her path through life.
Blanche attended schools in Helena, graduated from Helena High in 1947 and worked her way through Carroll College as a telephone operator at Mountain Bell, and was supervisor on the toll board. She graduated from Carroll with a BA in business, looked for employment in the male dominated financial field, and found there were no doors open to females in that field. As her search continued, she spoke with an air force recruiter who told her that she would qualify for the Air Force finance school and that women in the future would become more important.
After being accepted and graduating from the finance school, Blanche was commissioned and proceeded up the ranks until she was promoted and became the first woman general finance officer in the Air Force. The obstacles she overcame were worth the effort, and were handled in her typical way, put her head down and get the task done. While Blanche was in the service, she completed her studies for her MA at Central Michigan and also graduated from Officers War college.
Blanches tour of duties included Washington DC, Texas, Germany, NATO Command, which took her to most NATO countries, Taiwan, and Alaska.
After retiring Blanche choose to leave the DC area where she owned a home, and after visiting her brother Ron in Anaconda, she sold her home in Maryland and moved to Anaconda. While looking for a home, she discovered St. Paul's Rectory in need of much TLC and purchased it in 1983 "as is" from the Diocese of Helena and thus began her twenty year odyssey of restoring and living at the rectory and thus saving this historic piece of history of both the town and the Catholic parishes. Blanche sold the rectory in 2003 and it became a B&B.
Blanche had artistic talent and a love of arts and opened the first art gallery in town, in a remodeled section of the rectory and aptly named The Rectory Gallery. While all the time working on the restoration, Blanche continued her love of art learning wood carving and ceramics here locally and was fortunate to have water color teaching in Paris and oil teaching in the DC area, all fueled originally by her high school art teacher Mr. Tom Edwards who was lucky to have a bit of direction from Charlie Russell.
She also found time to run for the state legislator (lost), community concert association, accepted appointment to the Mt. State Board of Nursing (8 yrs), numerous other committees to help Anaconda and the Pintler route. Blanche also served as Post Commander, first woman to serve for the Anaconda American Legion. Blanche is also listed on the Washington DC women in service memorial and the Anaconda Veterans Memorial Wall.
Blanche was preceded in death her parents, brothers Richard, Victor Jr., Robert and sister Roberta. She is survived by brother Ron and wife Nadean of Anaconda & Yuma AZ, numerous nieces and nephews and her Goddaughter Natlee Lembke.
A Funeral Mass for Blanche will be held on Thursday, September 28, 2023 at 10:00a.m. at the Holy Family Catholic Church, 217 Pennsylvania St. Anaconda, MT. A one-hour viewing and visitation will take place prior to Mass beginning at 9:00 a.m. at Holy Family Catholic Church. A graveside service will be held following the Mass at the Montana Veterans Cemetery - Fort Harrison, 3550 Heroes Road, Helena, MT, at 2:00 p.m. A reception will be held following the graveside service at the Fort Harrison Service Club, 4353 Fredrick Drive, Fort Harrison, MT.
A LIFE WELL LIVED
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Longfellow Finnegan Riddle Funeral Home has been privileged to care for Blanche and her family.