Monday, February 26, 2018


July 6, 1923 -  April 30, 2013

When you come late into a person’s life, you rarely have much of an idea about his or her background.  I met Blanche in 2000, when I retired at 65, moved from Orange County and joined the San Bernardino Genealogical Society, of which she was a long-time member.  I came to know her as a friend and mentor who was knowledgeable about everything San Bernardino-ish, having lived there as an adult for about 50 years. 

She died in 2013, and it was in her Obituary I learned about her “other” (than genealogy) life.  She was born in New Mexico, and at the age of 4 contracted polio, which left her crippled in spite of many treatments, surgeries and exercises.  She spent her life in braces and crutches, but that didn’t stop her from becoming salutatorian at her high school and then graduating from University of New Mexico with a BS in Biology.  In 1948 she passed the California State Board Exam for Clinical Medical Technologist and subsequently the exam for Microbiologist.  Her first job, which she held for 10 years, was at the San Bernardino County Hospital, and then she spent another ten years as a microbiologist at Saint Bernadine’s Hospital, also in that city. 

During this period of time she married Albert Elwood Tompkins and they added two sons to the family, Walter and William.  Albert had served in the US Army during WWII, landing in Normandy on Utah Beach in September of 1944.  He proceeded through France and Belgium and into Germany, meeting the Russians in Berlin.  

In San Bernardino, Blanche was active in the Presbyterian Church, serving as a Deacon, member of the Session, Moderator of Circle of Hope and Presbyterian Women.  And she was the one who invited me to a most interesting "Kirkin' O' The Tartans" service, after she learned that my distant ancestor in 1804 was ordained  a Presbyterian minister. 

Blanche was a lovely woman, warm, helpful, and smart.  She knew every square inch of the California Room at the San Bernardino Library.  I was lucky to spend five years of working with her as a volunteer; I did not know her background then, as she didn't spend any time talking about herself.  She was there to help others.

I am glad I was counted as a friend and she certainly fits well in "Immortal Nobodies."  I surely won't forget her.