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Emeritus English professor Rufus Blanshard dies

by Sherry Fisher - April 2, 2007

Rufus Anderson Blanshard, emeritus professor of English, died March 20 at the Mansfield Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation. He was 85.

Blanshard, who was born in Rochester, N.Y., received a bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, from Swarthmore College in 1943. He earned a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1951.

From 1943 to 1945, he served in the U.S. Army in Europe.

He studied at the University of London on a Fulbright postdoctoral fellowship from 1951 to 1952, and was a Fulbright teaching fellow in Zagreb, Croatia, from 1968 to 1969.

He was also a Fulbright teaching fellow in Yaounde, Cameroon, from 1975 to 1976.

Blanshard was an instructor in English at the University of Wisconsin from 1952 to 1955.

He joined UConn’s English department in 1955, where he specialized in 17th- and 18th-century English literature and African-American and Caribbean literature. He retired in 1981.

“Whatever course he taught, Rufus set for his students an example of wit and compassion,” says Richard Reynolds, emeritus professor of English.

Blanshard was a member of the so-called “Inner College,” an alternative to the standard classroom curriculum in the 1970s; the American Federation of Teachers; and the Committee Against Racism.

A violinist, Blanshard played with the Manchester and Willimantic orchestras.

He also led a book discussion group at the Mansfield Senior Center; volunteered at the Donald T. Bergin Correctional Institution in Mansfield (formerly known as the Northeast Correctional Institution) and the Center for Learning in Retirement; and was a driver for Meals on Wheels.

He also enjoyed playing tennis.

Charles McLaughlin, also an emeritus professor of English, says Blanshard will be “deeply missed.”

He says his closest connection with Blanshard was as a tennis player and musician. “He played violin in our trio.

He handled his tennis racket and his violin with such graceful, flowing strokes, it was wonderful playing with him.”

Blanshard is survived by his wife of 54 years, Jane Ferguson Blanshard, four children, and two grandchildren.

Contributions may be made in his name to the Willimantic Orchestra, c/o Scott Lehmann, 532 Browns Road, Storrs, CT 06268; the World Organization of Renal Therapies, Medical Office Building, Suite 317, 79 Highland Avenue, Salem, MA 01970; or to the Rufus and Jane Blanshard Writing Prize, c/o Joyce Ashuntantang, 2C Yale Road, Storrs, CT 06268.

For online memorials, visit www.potterfh.com

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