Florence Blanchard, long time tennis player, coach, umpire and life Master Bridge player, passed away on March 10, 2017 at the age of 96. Flo was born In Biddeford, Maine in 1920, lost her parents when she was very young and worked very hard through her teen years, never having seen anything tennis. She met her future husband, Winslow "Mike" Blanchard, in Boston, Massachusetts, and started seeing everything tennis. She learned to play tennis in self-defense because she "hated just sitting on the porch while everyone else was having fun." Mike was already a tennis official and taught her to officiate and umpire. She umpired her first match in the Massachusetts State Championships in the summer of 1950. She umpired at the U.S. Nationals, and went on to umpire the finals five more times. In 1958 -1960, she coached the Eastern Sectional Jr. Wightman Cup Team. After arriving in Phoenix, she coached the Southwestern Jr. Wightman Cup team for several seasons. Mike and Flo moved permanently to Phoenix, AZ in 1960. Flo turned Professional in 1960 when she accepted the position at the West Side Tennis club in Phoenix. She was there for two years until she joined Mike at the Paradise Valley Country Club in Paradise Valley, AZ. as the Asst. Pro. Among her pupils there were five boys and two girls who later became professionals themselves. She won the Women's Singles Bermuda Championship (regular event, not seniors) in 1960 and was ranked 9th in the national seniors In 1960. In 1973 she was appointed tour umpire of the USTA Women's circuit and the tour umpire of the Virginia Slims Circuit. She won the Mary Chess Award for Umpire of the Year, the McGovern Award for the Top U. S. Umpire, and co-winner with husband Mike of the ATP "Jay" award given by the players to the court officials of the year. In 1980 she was selected by the International Tennis Federation as one of two Americans to umpire at the 1980 Olympics in Los Angeles. In 1983 she was awarded the USTA Service Bowl award to that person or player who makes the most notable contribution to the sportsmanship, fellowship and service of tennis. " She has umpired in Canada, Japan, United Arab Emirates, England, Bermuda, South America, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica. From 1985 to 1991, Flo was the referee on the USIA Satellite circuit. While Irving in Phoenix, she was nationally ranked in Senior Doubles with Maxine King of Phoenix as well as being Southwestern champions a number of times. She retired at 70 to live with Mike in their home in Phoenix until he died. She moved to the Terraces Retirement Home in 2012 where she continued to play a wicked game of bridge. She is survived by her daughter, Susan Herrick of Glendale; her granddaughter, Amy Howell of Phoenix; and grandson, Michael Herrick of Sunnydale, California; and four great-grandchildren.
Published in The Arizona Republic on Apr. 16, 2017.