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John Blanchard Obituary

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John singing with the Broadmoor Singers

John Albert Blanchard of Natick, age 86, passed away on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 surrounded by his family at Metrowest Medical Center in Framingham.

John is survived by his wife, Lani (Vance) Blanchard, his children Neil Edward Blanchard and Mary Frances Angelini of Maynard, Nathan Roy and Janet Keith Blanchard of Southborough, Katherine Rachel Blanchard of Milford, and their mother Mary Kesler Blanchard of Framingham. In addition, John leaves stepchildren Heather Eggert Honekamp and her husband Michael of Franklin, MA and Donald Warren Eggert of Chico, CA. His extended family includes nephews, nieces, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, his sister Dorothy Wiggins of State College, PA and sister-in-law Terry Field of Lancaster, PA.

John was born Oct 15th, 1930, to Mary Eleanor (Hoke) and Roy Osborne Blanchard in Erie, PA.  After graduating from high school in Allentown, PA in 1948, he attended Penn State where he received a degree in horticulture.  As a conscientious objector during the Korean War he was assigned to work at a Children's Home in Georgia. Following that, John received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

In preparing for Agricultural Missionary work with the Methodist Church in Southeast Asia, he attended Cornell University, where he met his first wife, Mary.  Neil, John's oldest son, was born in 1960 while they were in Sarawak on the island of Borneo, as was Nathan in 1962.  Katie was born in 1964 after they returned to the States.

The Blanchards lived in Ithaca, NY before moving to Machias, ME where they owned and operated a laundromat and dry cleaning service.  After moving to Framingham, MA, in the late 1960's, they began attending Framingham Friends Meeting. John worked in Cambridge at the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization that “promotes lasting peace with justice as a practical expression of faith in action.” Later, John worked for many years at the Middlesex News delivering papers in Natick.

In 1995, after years of choral singing and folk dancing together, John married Lani and moved to Natick.  This expanded his family to include Lani's children, Heather and Don.  Throughout their marriage John and Lani shared many interests including gardening, travel, animals, contra dancing, poetry, and spending time with their children and grandchildren.

The first thing anyone says when describing John is, “He was such a gentle man.” His gentleness underscored a deep spirituality that was palpable — a calm but assertive sense of the worth of the individual and the great potential for good of which each is capable. His favorite column in The Christian Science Monitor was “People Making a difference”-- stories of individuals whose dedication and persistence accomplished great things for humanity.

John was committed to protecting the environment. He and his family began practicing environmental awareness years before it became a mainstream issue, and he was dedicated to social justice concerns such as worker’s rights, non-violence, single payer healthcare, and worker-owned business, among others. In addition, John loved organic farming.

Music and poetry were John’s joy. His musical tastes were eclectic - everything from classical to folk to rock, Saint-Saens, Cat Stevens, Pete Seeger, and The Who. John, himself, sang with the Broadmoor Chamber Singers for 25 years, his deep bass voice spanning madrigals, gospel, jazz, show tunes, anthems, and PDQ Bach. His morning meditation was devoted to poetry, tea, and toast with jam as he centered himself through the works of Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, and Maxine Kumin, to name a few.

We will all remember John in our own ways. Perhaps when we eat fresh picked strawberries, or see a tall, slim man in a tan fishing hat with a child’s tiny hand wrapped around his finger as they walk. Or when we smell the yeast in rising dough. Maybe when we consider a bow tie, or finally win at solitaire. When we hear a Red Sox game on the radio. Or when the sky reminds us how blue some eyes can be.

John is much loved and will be missed by all of his friends and family.

A memorial service will be held Saturday May 20th at 2pm the Framingham Friends Meeting where John was a member for many years. For more information please contact the Everett & Sons Funeral Home, Natick, MA.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Framingham Friends Meeting , 841 Edmands Rd, Framingham, MA, 01701, in John’s memory.

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