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Although trained as a classical singer with an impressive musical career before her arrival in Alaska, Virginia Blanchard’s greatest contributions to the 49th state were her work in Alaska government and her community volunteer efforts.
She moved North from California in 1959, settling in Seward where she became financial officer and also oversaw the boat harbor. Then, in 1964, she began a long career in state government.
Blanchard was the first woman elected to the Juneau City Council in 1972 and served as vice-mayor. In addition, she chaired many boards and commissions, as well as leading charitable fundraising efforts.
Through her knowledge and influence, Blanchard successfully guided fiscal and management practices for a variety of civic groups. Her research on the financial ramifications of a statewide initiative to move the capitol proved influential.
Blanchard was recognized by the Fourteenth Legislature for her support and received thanks for opening her Sunday suppers to law makers, providing good food, hospitality and discussion across the aisle.
Upon retirement, Blanchard relocated to Anchorage and was offered a position as traveling auditor for the Department of Health and Social Services. The assignment required spending weeks in rural Alaska where many officials were women who had little training for working on government grants. Seeing their need, Blanchard spent much of her personal time mentoring and providing marketable career training for this far flung-group.
Later, she became active in senior citizens’ affairs. She represented Alaska at numerous national conferences on aging, as well as working for her region.
Blanchard was still very active when she moved to the Anchorage Pioneer Home, organizing voter seminars with candidates and serving on committees. Her final days were spent sharing delightful memories with long-time Alaskan friends from all-over-the-place who kept her company.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/7TE2oFGmvlQ