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Richard Blanding

Richard Blanding

Jan. 21, 1920-Jan. 3, 2014

Richard C. Blanding, 93, of Detroit Lakes, died Friday, January 3, 2014 at Ecumen-Emmanuel Nursing Home. At Richard's request, there will be a memorial service at a later date.

Richard Charles Blanding was born to Henry Dix Blanding Sr. and Ruth (Eddy) Blanding on January 21, 1920 in Detroit Lakes. Richard, known as "Dick" to his friends and family, became part of the third generation of Blandings in this Becker County town.

While growing up, he attended Detroit Lakes schools and was an accomplished athlete, the captain of the 1937 football team, and also earned letters in basketball and track. He attended college at the University of Minnesota, was president of his Theta Chi fraternity, and graduated with a BBA degree.

Throughout his public school and college years, he worked part-time at the family-owned Blanding's Department Store on Washington Avenue and spent his free time exploring and enjoying the wonderful natural resources of Becker County.

One summer in the late 1930's, he was hired to be on the work crew at Yellowstone National Park, and he rode there and back on the train along with other Minnesota youths.

A World War II veteran, Dick served his country from 1942 to 1946 and attained the rank of first lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

He met the love of his life, Theilma Jean "Bairn" Bairnson, while the two of them were still in college, and they were married in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on September 1, 1943.

Following the war, the young couple took up residence in Dick's hometown, and he began his career at Blanding's family department store, first in association with his father and uncle, and later in partnership with his brother, Henry.

To enhance the offerings of the store, Dick became a jack-of-all-trades in the retail profession. Through the years, Dick also became active in the community. An admirable list includes his involvement in many notable organizations and worthy causes.

He served as president of the Detroit Lakes Noon Rotary Club, United Fund, the Detroit Lakes Library Club, Detroit Lakes Industrial Development Corporation, Detroit Lakes Camping Club and the Detroit Lakes Jaycees.

He was a board member of the Detroit Country Club for 40 years (and treasurer for 24 years), a board member of the Detroit Lakes Public Library for 20 years, Lake Agassiz Regional Library for two terms, the Becker County Historical Society for two terms, the Itasca State Park Advisory Board, the Buffalo-Rice-Rock Lake Association and the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce, where he served as vice-president.

In addition, he served as chairman of the Becker County Republican Party, was a Sunday school teacher and moderator at the Congregational Church, helped with Meals-On-Wheels for several years and was a docent at the Tamarac National Refuge.

Dick was also a tremendously devoted family man, often packing the family up for woodland hikes, time at the lake, skiing, hunting, fishing and occasional trips across the country with a camping trailer in tow.

He passed along a devout love of the outdoors to his daughters and grandchildren, and he served as a role model for leading a life of honesty, integrity, hard work, doing good and having fun along the way. He thoroughly enjoyed his favorite sports, tennis and golf and his time spent hunting, fishing and roaming the trails at his beloved Rock Lake.

Following his retirement at the age of 60, Dick was able to pursue a lifelong wish, one that he often called the most fun he had in his entire life: building a log cabin from scratch, at the edge of Rock Lake. Most of the work was done singlehandedly, with logs that came from his own property.

Dick and Bairn, along with family and friends enjoyed the accomplishment enormously, and the cabin stands as a testimony to his country craftsmanship, his determination, and his ability to make a dream come true.

He lived his life through his kindness, his wise words, his devotion, his actions and he made many positive contributions to his community, his country and the world around him. He was admired by his acquaintances, cherished by his friends and loved by his family.

Called a "local legend" by his hometown newspaper, he was a perfect example of the good that can result from the desire to leave the world better for your being here, and his legacy will live on in many wonderful ways.

Dick is survived by his daughters, Georganne Hunter (Stephen Dahl) of Duluth, Barbara (Charles) Bartholdi of Mahtomedi and Carol (Douglas) Pagels of Boulder, Colo.; four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Bairn and his brother, Henry.

Memorials are preferred to: Friends of Tamarac, P. O. Box 1818, Detroit Lakes, MN 56502. The David-Donehower Funeral Home is serving the family.