(Alice) Blanche Howard died peacefully in her sleep of natural causes at Hollyburn House in West Vancouver, B.C. on June 12, 2014.
Blanche was born in 1923 in Daysland, Alberta to Douglas and Alice Machon (Heald) and spent alternating years living in Calgary where she received much of her schooling under the guidance of her Aunt Blanche. She was the oldest of four siblings, Maxie (Edmonson), Roy (d), and Shirley (Rasmussen). Blanche’s peripatetic childhood meant she was as comfortable tearing through the prairie lands on a horse as she was studying Shakespeare in the refinement of her temporary Calgary home. She set off for the University of Alberta at the age of 16, earning a degree in Science.
A week after Blanche married Bruce Howard, an air force pilot, in 1945, he was shipped overseas for what would be the end of the war. Due to the “last over, last home policy” Bruce remained in England for a year while Blanche worked in Toronto as a chemist. Reunited, they remained in Toronto for two years while Bruce attended university after which they hopped on a train, seeking adventure, finally settling in Penticton, B.C. for 25 years.
During the Penticton years, Blanche and Bruce had three children, Allison, Stephen and Leslie and dabbled in several businesses and occupations including Blanche’s first forays in writing. An early success in 1956 saw her publishing a short story in Maclean’s Magazine, igniting a life-long passion for writing. As well, Blanche decided in 1960 to article as a Chartered Accountant, graduating as one of the first female CAs in British Columbia.
Politics took Blanche and Bruce to Ottawa in 1968 where she settled into the life of an MP’s wife. Even here she distinguished herself by being the first parliamentary spouse to ever be invited to address caucus. At this time Blanche published the first of five novels (winning the Canadian booksellers award), a memoir of letters and countless short stories and journal articles. Bruce and Blanche later settled in North Vancouver for many years where Blanche pursued a varied career in writing, stints at chartered accountancy and numerous volunteer activities. She was a life-long member of the Liberal Party, served on countless boards including the Vanier Institute of the Family and all the while nourished her growing family of grandchildren.
Blanche was predeceased by her loving husband, Bruce of 57 years in 2002. She is survived by her three children, six grandchildren, two great grandchildren, two sisters and many nieces and nephews plus a community of friends and neighbours who will miss her humour, sparkling intellect and passion for life.
A memorial service will be held at the North Shore Unitarian Church of North Vancouver on July 26, 2014 at 2:00 p.m.