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Blanche was born in Hagerman, New Mexico on July 6, 1923, and was the youngest of 5 children. Blanche's parents were Edwin Eddy Lane and Alberta Johnson Lane. At the age of 4, Blanche contracted poliomyelitis, probably at a 4th of July celebration at Lake Van outside of Dexter, New Mexico. Blanche received treatment at the Carroll, Driver, and Girard Clinic in Dallas, Texas. This treatment consisted of warm water exercises along with night and day braces to prevent shrinkage. Blanche's parents built a warm water pool at their Hagerman home to allow continuation of the exercise regimen through the winter. After numerous operations, many of which were unsuccessful, Blanche was asked whether she wanted crutches or braces; a dumb question to ask a child. She chose crutches because she could go faster! Probably the most helpful treatment she received was during the year that she spent at the Milton H. Berry School in Van Nuys, California when she was 15 years old. They put her in one long leg brace and gave her one cane. This was very beneficial psychologically as well as physically because she had been in constant association with paraplegics and quadriplegics at the school. In spite of all the operations she graduated with her Hagerman High School class as salutatorian. She traveled to California for college, beginning at UCSB and then moving to UCLA and then finally graduating from the University of New Mexico with a B.S. in Biology.
Blanche joined the Presbyterian Church in Hagerman, New Mexico, as an early teenager. Although she attended the church in San Bernardino, when it was located on Church Street, she did not join until it was located at 1900 D Street. Blanche taught Church School for six years. She served as a Deacon, member of the Session, Moderater of Circle of Hope and Presbyterian Women. She received She started work at the New Mexico State Public Health Lab in Albuquerque but the New Mexico salaries were so low that after 2.5 years she returned to California in 1948 where she prepared for and passed the State Board Exam for Clinical Medical Technologist and subsequently the exam for Microbiologist. Her first job was with the San Bernardino County Hospital where she was employed for ten years. She then spent another ten years as a Microbiologist at Saint Bernadine's Hospital in San Bernardino.
In January 1953, Blanche married Albert Elwood Thomas Tompkins, a second generation California native son. Albert served in the US Army during World War II, landing in Normandy on Utah Beach in September, 1944. He proceeded through France and Belgium and into Germany, meeting the Russians in Berlin. Blanche and Albert had two children. Walter Hal Tompkins was born in September, 1953, and William Albert Tompkins was born in December, 1956.
When the Norman Feldman Library was built, there was not enough money to staff the California Room and they asked for volunteers from the San Bernardino Genealogical Society and the San Bernardino Historical Society. Since Blanche was a member of both, she volunteered and served as a docent for over ten years. Blanche was also a member of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution).
Blanche passed away April 30, 2013 at approximately 5am. She is survived by two sons, three grandchildren, and six great grandchildren.
Graveside services will be at 1:00 p.m., Monday, May 6, 2013 at Montecito Memorial Park, Colton, CA. Memorial services will follow at 2:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 1900 Ave. N. "D" St. San Bernardino, CA. Care entrusted to Bobbitt Memorial Chapel, San Bernardino.
Bobbitt Memorial Chapel
1299 E. Highland Avenue San Bernardino, CA 92404
Published in San Bernardino Sun on May 3, 2013