The Webb community is saddened to learn about the passing of longtime friend William B. “Bill” Blanchard ’51. The Daily Bulletinreports that Bill “died after his vehicle was struck during a high-speed police chase on Benson Avenue in Upland.” Bill was transported by helicopter to Arrowhead Medical Center, but unfortunately his injuries were too severe. Bill is survived by his mother Mary Blanchard, his sisters Milly Blakeley and Margaret Nelson, and his wife Arlene, five children, and many grandchildren.
At Webb Bill was captain of the track team, a member of the Drama Club and C.S.F., but he was perhaps most famous for his musical abilities which included writing and directing the scores for two school musical farces, For Land’s Sake and Well Why Not, written by Webb master John Pettley. He went on to Pomona College where he was a music major and then earned his master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music. The year after his Webb graduation Mr. Pettley left, so Thompson Webb invited him back to direct the Webb Choir and Glee Club which he did for about six years. During this time he married Helen Blanchard, who he remained married to until 1996 when she died of complications from cancer.
Shortly after graduating from Pomona College, Bill was drafted into the Army and served in Korea as a member of the Army band playing for officers and dignitaries at special events-a unique military experience! When he returned home, he taught music and math at Chaffey College for 28 years. He soon learned that through the GI Bill he could get flight training, so in 1971 he received his training and credentials at Cable Airport, eventually becoming a flight instructor and Chairman of the Safety Committee. Bill also wrote the airport’s master plan that was approved in 1981, and helped obtain the first FAA grant to a private airport in Southern California in 1985. He continued working at Cable Airport as Planning Director and coordinating many more grants throughout the years. He also continued his love of music with the Bill Blanchard's Little Big Band and the Ontario/Chaffey Community Show Band which performed around the Inland Empire.
Bill always told us how grateful he was for the opportunity to attend Webb. He was very fond of Fred Hooper, Ramsay Harris and Gordon Wilson, but was most grateful for the senior chapel talks and leading the senior current event discussions because these experiences helped prepare him for public speaking, as a teacher and in making presentations before the City Council for his work at Cable Airport. In 1986, in a thoughtful show of appreciation, the Blanchard family donated the William G. Blanchard Memorial Organ to the Vivian Webb Chapel. Over a decade later, on July 11, 1999, Bill married Arlene Hartman in the Vivian Webb Chapel.
A service will be on Saturday, July 10, 2010, at 11:15 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Upland, 262 N. Euclid Avenue, Upland, California.