May 7, 1927 - August 31, 2018
Carolyn Griser Blankenmeister, 91, loving wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother passed away peacefully on August 31, 2018. She was born on May 7, 1927 near Fortescue, Missouri and graduated from Oregon High School. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics from the University of Missouri, Columbia. On August 5, 1950, she married Erwin Blankenmeister on the lawn of her parents’ farmhouse where her great grandparents homesteaded in 1851. After living briefly in Houston and Chicago, they settled in the Sparkman Club neighborhood in northwest Dallas.
As long time member of Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, Carolyn served in many capacities: Official Board, Outreach Commission, United Methodist Women President three terms, District officer for eight years, organizing chair of the Auxiliary to Dallas Bethlehem Center, and volunteered in the Adult Forum Sunday School Class. In the community, she was a charter member of the Metropolitan Home Economics Association, League of Women Voters, Sparkman Community Club and president of the Brookhaven Book Club. She enjoyed attending the opera, traveling America and Europe and reading voraciously.
Proceeded in death by her parents Charles and Alice Meyer Griser, sister Elizabeth Estep, brother Charles, Jr. and grandson Brandon Blankenmeister, Carolyn is survived by her husband Erwin of 68 years, sister Charlene of Danville, CA; daughter Debby (Ken) of Riverside CA, sons Paul (Linda) of West Linn, OR and Gary (Tricia) of Frisco, TX; grandchildren Jenn Foskett (Rob) of Boulder, CO, Chris (Diana) of Riverside, CA, Brian (Heather) of Breckenridge, CO and Benjamin of New York, NY; and great-grandchildren Ryland, Scarlett, Connor and Hadley.
Carolyn’s relatives helped settle this country. They lived and farmed in northwest Missouri all of their lives. When her great Uncle George and Andrew discovered gold in California, they used their money to purchase the Meyerdale farm land in 1850. With older sister Elizabeth and younger sister Charlene, Carolyn grew up on a farm surrounded by a beautiful landscape and farm animals winning 4H Club prizes in high school for raising sheep. But her love for the larger world drew her to study and received a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics at the University of Missouri at Columbia. One year she roomed with her sister Charlene. Her monthly budget for her living expenses in 1948 was less than $100. One weekend when the Kappa Alpha fraternity at the all men’s school at Rolla needed girls for their dances, she traveled to the dance and met the love of her life, Erwin. They were married on the front lawn of Meyerdale Farm in August 1950 and just celebrated their 68 anniversary.
She was brought up with traditional values and learned the skills that a woman of her era should—cooking and sewing, as well as a love of family. Even though there wasn’t a lot of extra money, our family was always well fed and dressed. Mother didn’t buy store prepared foods and spent hours cooking and baking while showing us how it was done. When we went off to college, our friends were amazed that we knew how to clean our rooms, wash our clothes, fix our own meals…. Before we left for school, we always ate a home cooked hot breakfast and we learned to eat everything from brussel sprouts to chicken gumbo with a typical Sat lunch of hot dogs and dinner of steak and mushrooms. We even learned how to cut up a whole chicken, shuck corn, snap beans and pick fruit right out of the trees. Mother sewed many of our clothes making beautiful dresses as pants weren’t allowed in school, and swimsuits or shorts for the guys. Later, she sewed tailored suits with bound buttonholes and square dancing dresses with full petticoats. We put puzzles together and most of them are on display at Meyerdale.
Carolyn also believed that the arts and music were an integral part of one’s education. She always played classical music on the radio, enjoyed attending the Dallas Opera with her friends and just last year, watched the New York Metropolitan Opera at the local IMAX movie theater.
She pursued a lifelong effort to build family connections as there were six aunts and many cousins. She participated in a “round robin” with the other relatives where letters would be sent to each other and when a large envelope arrived, you removed the one sent 6 months before and replaced it with another and sent it on its way. Much different than emails and texts today. Every summer, she would drive us to see her parents where we experienced real life on a working farm for 2 weeks. She would also visit extended family on side trips and vacations over the years. She met her goal of watching her grandchildren grow up with seeing them at least twice a year. One summer when visiting Meyerdale, grandson Chris brought a box of Baby Ruth candy bars. Grandmother thought she was so smart putting them up high in the pantry, but the boys found them and ate all of them since she couldn’t see inside the empty box. What Chris’s mom did know, is the reason grandmother hid the, was Chris and the boys were eating them for breakfast.
As a child, she had rheumatic fever and ended up having several heart surgeries and would always rest each afternoon after watching the General Hospital soap opera. On her nightstand were several Bibles and books with daily readings and interpretations. She also read books for her book club and attended lectures or classes to continue learning.
She taught us many things that hold us in good stead today—good manners, respect and sound moral values. We learned from her example. These values have made us who we are and we thank her so very, very much. As her beloved family, she is within our hearts. Carolyn’s life on earth has ended, but her spirit lives on through her devotion to Christ. Those of us lucky enough to glimpse into her stories and share in her life, are all the richer for having done so. We know that love never ends with just a life and that our Mother Carolyn’s spirit continues as a quiet thoughtful force in this world. We can’t help to remember our mother’s “gift of love” that never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).
Memorials can be made to Lovers Lane United Methodist Women’s Memorial Fund, Dallas Bethlehem Center building or a Scholarship Fund or Memorial of your choice.
Services are scheduled for Saturday, September 22, 2018 at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church Shipp Chapel at 2:00 pm.
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