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Blank celebrates milestone

Blank celebrates milestone
Blank celebrates milestone
Norma Blank of Lanesville receives well-wishes on her 100th birthday Sept. 18 from her caregiver, Lisa England, and England’s grandchildren, Braeley and Brynna England. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor
By Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]

Family and friends spilled out from under the large white tent at the Blank farm southwest of Lanesville on a recent Sunday afternoon. They had gathered to celebrate Norma Blank’s birthday. Not just any birthday, but her 100th.

Norma was born on Sept. 18, 1922, five miles south of Lanesville and moved into town when she was 4. She was one of four children born to Fred and Anna Zollman Voelker. She outlived her three brothers, Martin, Oscar and Donald, although both Marin and Donald lived into their 90s.

Donn Blank of Corydon, one of Norma’s three sons, said his mother attended St. John Lutheran School through the eighth grade. Her high school years were spent at Lanesville, where she earned her diploma.

She married David Blank on Dec. 6, 1942. The couple’s other two sons are Randall Blank of Angola and Gary Blank of Lanesville. Norma has five grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

“She was a full-time mom and farmer’s wife,” Donn said. “She was an active member at St John’s Lutheran Church.

“She loved traveling and looking at the scenery,” he added. “Western travel was her favorite and especially going to ‘the ranch’ in southwest Colorado with my dad and friends.”

Norma was last at the ranch five years ago, at the age of 95, when Donn and Randall took her there.

“I kept trying to get her to sleep through boring Kansas but she refused, saying she feared she’d miss something,” Donn said.

Besides going to the ranch, Norma had visited the Holy Land.

During 15 years of the Blanks’ marriage, David served on the Indiana State Fair board.

“She enjoyed those years, getting to meet and get pictures with all the entertainers,” Donn said. “Her friends enjoyed staying with her during the fair.

“I remember that her and her friends would argue over whether Tom Jones’ sweat was real or fake,” he said. “Other favorites included John Denver, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Wayne Newton and Alabama.”

Each year while David was on the fair board, he and Norma would be guests of the governor’s for dinner.

“But she wasn’t so found of that, so she said,” Donn noted.

Donn said times were different when his mother was growing up.

“I would ask about her memories during the depression and she recalled that her family was better off than many because they farmed and had most necessities,” he said. “Her dad had built the house on Highway 62 in Lanesville, so they had no house payment.

“Cars were a relatively new thing, but they owned a car as well,” Donn said. “They would barter farm products for other items.”

As a child, “fun times” for Norma and siblings were getting together with cousins and friends to play outdoors, Donn added.

One particular board game, Monopoly, became a favorite of Norma’s.

“It came out when mother was 14, and parents went in on a game with her mother’s family, thus giving a chance for the cousins to get together,” Donn said. “She last played four years ago and won.”

Asked about his mother attributed her longevity to, Donn said, “She lived a healthy life and worked hard on the farm, rarely had a drink and never smoked.

“The last five years it is attributed to her angels sent from heaven in the form of caregivers, who truly love her as a mother,” he said. “And, most of all, she had tremendous faith in God.”