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William Blanchard

1953 - 2020
William Blanchard Obituary
William Joseph Blanchard

JUNE 12, 1953 - FEBRUARY 8, 2020

William Blanchard has peacefully passed away February 8, 2020. Bill was born to Kathleen T. and Thomas J. Blanchard on June 12, 1953 in San Francisco where he attended St. Stephen's Grammar School and Riordan High School. He was a loved and loving brother to his siblings Annette (John), Tim, Judy (Rick), Rita and John (Prisca) as well as admired uncle to his nieces and nephews Arlo, Nicole, Dan, Rich, Thom and Kurt.
Bill was a talented athlete both at St Stephens and Riordan excelling in Basketball and Football. It was while playing Free Safety for the Varsity Football team at Riordan on August 31, 1970 that Bill tragically suffered a broken neck while making a tackle on the field. This injury resulted in leaving Bill a Quadriplegic and paralyzed from the neck down.
Although injured in just the first few days of his Senior year Bill succeeded in graduating High School through tutorship during his recovery and rehabilitation at St Mary's Hospital and then Stanford University Medical Center. Notable for his extraordinary internal strength, toughness and positive attitude, Bill was an inspiration to his teammates, teachers and all who knew him. The Bill Blanchard Award was instituted at Riordan High School for athletes that demonstrate the "Inspiration" that Bill manifested as an athlete as well as a survivor and leader.
Bill went on to attend City College of San Francisco and then the University of California at Berkeley where he graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Social Welfare.
During his time attending U.C., with typical resolve to live his life, Bill rolled himself into a van with some Berkeley colleagues for a road trip to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Always conscious of the greater good, Bill sacrificed a job opportunity to participate in the 25 day sit in/occupation at the San Francisco Federal Building in 1977 that resulted in the signing of Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act that guaranteed disabled accessibility to Government Buildings and Educational Institutions and Programs.
While a student at Berkeley, Bill held an internship with the Disabled Students Union. Upon graduation he was ultimately promoted to Coordinator of the Disabled Students Residence Program at U.C. Berkeley. Among many of his contributions, he was instrumental in having curb cuts for the disabled and others, added to Berkeley sidewalks. He was awarded the UC Vice Chancellor's award for his inspirational, professional excellence in working for the College. At the same time Bill served on the Board of Last Call, a Berkeley emergency services program for people with disabilities. After his retirement he served as Secretary, then President, of the Shattuck Ave Lofts Homeowners Association, in addition to volunteering at the North Berkeley Seniors Center, the Suicide Prevention Hotline and other Services.
In addition to his advocacy and his internal athletic qualities Bill retained his intellectual interests with continuing education classes and doing some creative writing. As well as a poetic writer and correspondent Bill loved to sing and was lead singer for a rock band in his grammar and high school years. Also, he was a spiritual and meditative person attending both Berkeley's Catholic Newman Center for services as well as the Zen Center for meditative pursuit.
Bill Blanchard led a meaningful life with fortitude and heartfelt compassion for others. He was funny, smart, kind and brave. He had a way of deflecting bad feelings in his presence and, no matter how bad things were, never complained or wanted anyone to worry or be unhappy, so family and friends never were when with him. He was a joy to be around and was liked and respected by all those that knew him and knew of him. He was widely recognized as an empathetic listener, great storyteller and quick wit. Despite incredible hardship in the last years of his life, Bill always had a smile and kind words for all whom he encountered.
There will be a private family burial, and a Celebration of Life to be held at a future date.
For updates, please visit: www.duggans-serra.com/obituary/William-Joseph-Blanchard/Berkeley-California/1868233


Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Feb. 16, 2020
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