Howard Durand Blanding II died peacefully on April 30, 2023. He was 94.
He was born Sept. 13, 1928, in St. Croix Falls. Durand attended the University of Wisconsin, and obtained his degree in business administration. Upon graduation he enlisted in the Army. During the Korean War, Durand served his country in the Counter Intelligence Corps in Japan. After the war, he attended the University of Wisconsin Law School and practiced law for over 40 years in St. Croix Falls. Active in Delta Sigma Pi Business and Phi Alpha Delta Law fraternities, he relished memories made in Madison and remained a proud Badger. A history buff, he was very involved in the St. Croix Falls Historical Society until his death.
Durand was also instrumental in rebuilding the First Presbyterian Church after a fire. He was an active member of the American Legion Post 143. Durand enjoyed all things outdoors—daily swims in Deer Lake, canoeing Wisconsin rivers, and walks at Interstate Park with family. He was a lifelong fan of the Badgers, Packers and the Brewers. He loved his family, and was very proud of his grandchildren and their accomplishments. Kindness, great stories, good humor, and generosity are some of the many reasons Durand will be remembered.
Durand’s start into local history began when he joined the St. Croix Falls historical society in 1992. When he became president he served for 30 years, overseeing the purchase of the Baker Building in downtown St. Croix Falls on the last day of the twentieth century, December 31, 2000. This created a permanent home for the valley’s historical records and artifacts.
Norm Toensing, current Historical Society President, remembers those hectic days of renovating the 1882 building fondly.
“Every Tuesday morning we met at the Dalles House and handled the business of the renovation of the Baker building. The part I remember most about those Tuesdays was sitting around telling stories which were always funny, irreverent tales. Humor really bonded us as friends,” explained Toensing.
Toensing also appreciated Blanding’s knack for delegating and not micro-managing. He said he uses his same leadership style in his position today.
Blanding was also a long-time member of the American Legion Post 143 and an attorney who started his practice from an $800 GI bill loan after serving in the Counter Intelligence Corps in Japan during the Korean War.
Blanding played the taps during veterans’ funerals for years and marched for the Legion in the Wannigan Days parade for decades. Toensing recalls that when Blanding was younger and playing the taps, he used a trumpet that had an automatic play setting; he would only need to hit a button to play. Durand would get compliments on his trumpet acumen, and he would never reveal his secret!
He was preceded in death by his wife of 66 years, Mary Ellen Louise (Peterson); father, Howard Durand Blanding; mother, Ella Maria (Bergh) Blanding; and sisters, Jean Smith and Beth Cobb.
He is survived by son, Howard Durand Blanding III, daughter, Mary Beth (Mo) Blanding, and son, William Robert (Pam) Blanding; grandchildren, Katherine, Lauren, Britta, Nicholas, Margaret and Beau Blanding, and many more relatives and friends.
A Celebration of Life will be May 18 at 11 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church, St. Croix Falls, with a visitation one hour prior to the service. Private interment will be at the St. Croix Cemetery. Luncheon will follow at the American Legion Club, St. Croix Falls. Memorials to the St. Croix Falls Historical Society. Arrangements made through the Grandstrand Funeral Home in Osceola. Condolences may be expressed online at www.grandstrandfh.com.
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