By: Emily Lehner
When David Blanchard arrived on Marion College’s campus in 1949, he walked into the registrar’s office, gave them his $5 room deposit, and signed up for school. “There wasn’t any shopping around for college. You just showed up and enrolled,” he said. He remembers the main buildings on campus being the Administration building and Teter Hall, which served as a girl’s’ dorm and cafeteria. For meals, they ate family style. He said, “gentlemen were taught to hold the dish and allow the women on their side to take their serving first. The food was always passed to the right.”
At the time, campus only held about 450 students and a good number of them were GI’s that had recently returned from WWII. One of Blanchard’s class officers was a GI that had lost his leg in the war.
Upon graduating from IWU in 1953 with a major in Religion and a minor in Greek, Blanchard became interested in furthering his education in the field of Law. Therefore, he travelled to University of Louisville and scheduled a meeting with one of the advisors there. He realized he was truly interested in Engineering, and after their conversation, he decided to pursue a Master’s in Physics, a four-year program.
Finding a job didn’t come easily in the summer of 1957, so Blanchard signed up for Military service because people were being drafted. He was labeled under Critical Skills because of his specialty in Math and Science. After serving for a short time, he received a letter from IWU asking for help instructing science and math courses for the remainder of the semester. Blanchard accepted and finished out the semester teaching. During that time, he met who would soon be his wife, Allene, a graduate of Houghton College and professor of Keyboard and Music Theory at IWU.
The couple was married in June of 1958, and soon after, Blanchard networked with a friend he had in Washington D.C. to do some underwater oceanography work. He worked for many of the following years for the Navy, and then eventually, obtained a job with NASA.
When asked how to balance the fragile Christianity vs. Science discussion, Blanchard said, “My faith walk with Jesus is extremely important to me. That always comes first. I cast my lot there. I grew in a very relational way during my time at Marion College.” He went on to discuss his belief in Jesus as the Creator, and stated, “There are many disagreements between science and religion, but that doesn’t matter because time will prove what arguments are correct. God is in control, and I have no problem with that.”
David Blanchard’s career and life bible verse is Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” He and his wife currently reside in Falls Church, Virginia.
When Blanchard was asked about winning this award, he said, “When I first heard about winning, I struggled to believe it. I am humbled and awed by being awarded such a wonderful award.”
Written by Emily Lehner, a writer for the Alumni Center and a sophomore Writing major at IWU. She is active on the cross country and track teams. She is passionate about using her writing skills to share the good news of Christ with others and writes often on her personal blog at www.emilylehner.wordpress.com.