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Frank T. Blanda

Company F-2

4 Feb 1940 - 21 Jul 2005

Place of Death: San Antonio, TX

Interment: Fort Sam Houston, TX

Tom Blanda passed away on the evening of 21 July 2005, one week after suffering a massive heart attack while at a golf driving range.

Condolences can be sent to Brenda Blanda and her family at 1107 Jack Pine Street, San Antonio, TX  78232.  Brenda's phone number is (210) 494-4174.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in memory of Tom may be made to the General Scholarship Fund, Texas Military Institute, 20955 West Tejas Trail, San Antonio, TX 78257. Additional information is available at the TMI web site,, click on "Alumni" and then click on "Ways to Give.">

The funeral service for Tom was very special. It was held at St. David’s Episcopal Church. The Celebrant was the chaplain at Texas Military Institute (TMI), where Tom had taught math for the last 6 years. Tom received special tributes as a math instructor ….. not for the way he taught even though he was an outstanding teacher, but for the way he cared for his students. The Class of 2005 from TMI had dedicated the yearbook to him.

It was estimate that over 200 people were in attendance, including 13 classmates. Honorary Pall Bearers were: Rod Grannemann, Al Vanderbush, Red Zaldo and Dick Buckner. Also present were Art Downey, Glen Mallory with wife, Phil Mallory with wife, Jerry Clements with wife, Ken McCollister, Frank Gibson, Ron Barrick, Steve Denney with wife, Gary Flack, andJan Grannemann.

Brenda and her daughters held up well and Mary and Julie provided a reflection of Tom’s life. Bob Ridewood, who taught with Tom, provided a reflection of Tom as a teacher. The Postlude was On Brave Old Army Team.

Following the ceremony the service moved to Ft Sam Houston National Cemetery where TMI provided a color guard. Full Military Honors were rendered and a bagpiper played.

After the service there was a reception at TMI. A large number of students were present. The conclusion of the day came with the release of red, white and blue balloons.

Steve Denney and Ron Barrick (left)
Al Vanderbush and Red Zaldo (below)

Tom, Well Done, be thou at peace!


Class Memorial Pages\F-2 Tom Blanda.pdf

Funeral Notice:

The funeral services for Tom Blanda were as follows:

Visitation -- MondayJul.25,2005, 7:00 pm - 08:30 pmat Porter Loring Mortuary North, 2102 North Loop 1604 East, San Antonio, TX 78232 210-495-8221

Service -- TuesdayJul.26,2005 at 1:00 pm St. David's Episcopal Church, 1300 Wiltshire, San Antonio, TX 78201 210-824-2481

Burial -- Tuesday, July 26, 2005 following service at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, 1520 Harry Wurzbach, San Antonio, TX 78209 210-820-3891


LTC Frank Tom Blanda , USA (Ret.)
Born in Youngwood, PA on Feb.4,1940
Died Jul.21,2005 and resided in San Antonio,TX.

LTC Frank Tom Blanda, USA (Ret.), age 65, passed away on Thursday, July 21, 2005 in San Antonio, TX. He was preceded in death by his parents Michael and Mary Blanda, three brothers, and three sisters. He is survived by his wife, Brenda Blanda of San Antonio; daughters, Juli Blanda of Seguin, Holly Hershfelt and husband Jef of Spicewood, and Mary Blanda of San Antonio; grandchildren, Thomas Pierce, Frank Toby Blanda, and Ruby Hershfelt; sister, Margaret Yakubsin of Youngwood, PA; brothers, George Blanda of Chicago, IL, Paul Blanda of Sebring, FL, and John Blanda of Columbus, OH; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the scholarship fund at TMI in his name.

Blanda                                                                                 07/24/2005

LTC Frank Tom Blanda, USA (Ret.), age 65, passed away on Thursday, July 21, 2005 in San Antonio, TX. Tom was born in Youngwood, PA in 1940 to Mary and Michael Blanda. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1961 where he excelled both academically and athletically. Tom received a Masters Degree in mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1969. Tom was a 1975 graduate of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He then served on the faculty at West Point for three years. His 24 years of Military service included two tours of duty in Viet Nam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade and as an advisor to a Vietnamese Army unit. He also served with the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, with CINCPAQ in Hawaii, and with the Command and General Staff at the Pentagon. He was serving at Fifth Army at Fort Sam Houston Texas when he retired in 1985. Tom's military career is highlighted with numerous awards including the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. Upon retirement, he pursued his love of teaching mathematics at Palo Alto College, San Antonio College, the University of Incarnate Word, and the Texas Military Institute. He was preceded in death by his parents Michael and Mary Blanda, three brothers, and three sisters. He is survived by his wife, Brenda Blanda of San Antonio; daughters, Juli Blanda of Seguin, Holly Hershfelt and husband Jef of Spicewood, and Mary 'Katy' Blanda of San Antonio; grandchildren, Thomas Pierce, Frank Toby Blanda, and Ruby Hershfelt; sister, Maragaret Yakubisin of Youngwood, Pa; brothers, George Blanda of Chicago, IL, Paul Blanda of Sebring, FL, and John Blanda of Columbus, OH: and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. The family will receive friends on Monday, July 25, from 7-8:30 PM at Porter Loring Mortuary North. Service Tuesday, July 26, 1 PM St. David's Episcopal Church 1300 Wiltshire San Antonio, TX 78209 Father Scott Brown officiating. Interment will follow in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the general scholarship fund at TMI in his name. You are invited to sign the guestbook at Arrangements with Porter Loring Mortuary North.

Portions 2005 KENS 5 and the San Antonio Express-News.

Math teacher Blanda turned down pro football for Army career

Frank T. "Tom" Blanda, a TMI math teacher who declined an offer to play professional football with the St. Louis Cardinals so that he could stay in the Army, died Thursday at 65.

Blanda died at North Central Hospital one week after suffering a heart attack while on the driving range.

A 1961 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Blanda lettered in football -- he was quarterback his junior and senior years -- and won Second-Team All-America honors.

Around that same time, an older brother, future Pro Football Hall of Famer George Blanda was leading the American Football League in pass attempts and completions.

Tom Blanda served two years in the Army after earning his commission.  While stationed at Fort Campbell, KY, the Cardinals flew him and his wife, Brenda, to St. Louis.

"After taking a week to think about it, he said he felt an obligation to stay in the Army because it had paid for his education," Brenda Blanda said.  "He never regretted his choice.  I did because a year and a half later, he was in Vietnam."

He would serve two tours in Vietnam before returning to West Point to teach math.

At the academy he became known for helping students master mathematics and for ending each class with his uniform covered in chalk dust.

A man who read math books for pleasure, the Youngwood, PA, native liked to take any piece of paper on hand, from mail envelopes to scratch pads, to jot down math formulas.

His Army career came to the close in 1985 at Fort Sam Houston with the rank of lieutenant colonel.  Blanda taught math at several schools, including Incarnate Word College -- now University of the Incarnate Word -- where he remained for 12 years.

Blanda loved teaching at West Point and at Incarnate Word but he grew tired of students who were unprepared for college-level math, said his wife.

Two years after joining Texas Military Institute, he told his wife he felt "like I've come home."

Hours before his heart attack, Blanda learned two of his students passed their Advanced Placement exams, one with a 5, the highest possible score, and the other with a 4.

"Tom was so excited that he literally danced a little jig in the kitchen," Brenda said.

Along with his wife and brother George, he leaves three daughters, Juli Blanda of Seguin, Holly Hershfelt of Spicewood and Mary Blanda of San Antonio; three grandchildren, Thomas Pierce and Frank Toby Blanda, both of San Antonio, and Ruby Hershfelt of Spicewood, a sister, Margaret Yakubsin of Youngwood; and two other brothers, Paul Blanda of Sebring, Fla, and John Blanda of Columbus, Ohio.

Visitation will be at Porter Loring Mortuary North at 2101 N. Loop 1604 on Monday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

A funeral service will be Tuesday at 1 p.m. at St. David's Episcopal Church at 1300 Wiltshire.

Internment in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

San Antonio Express-News  Sunday, July 24, 2005

Assembly/Taps Memorial Article:

Cullum No. 23398-1961 | July 21, 2005
Died in San Antonio, TX
Interred in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, TX

Frank Thomas “Tom” Blanda was the youngest of 12 children born to Michael and Mary Blanda in Youngwood, PA. His parents met on board a ship while immigrating from Slovakia. Fortunately for all Mary had missed sailing on the Titanic.

As the youngest by seven years Tom often played alone using toy soldiers made of his mother’s clothes pins. Tom graduated valedictorian of Hempfield Area High School and planned to follow brother Paul’s footsteps and play football for the University of Pittsburgh. Fortunately, Coach Red Blaik lured him to West Point as a kicker and eventual starting quarterback where he set Academy records and was selected to the All-America Team.

Tom’s football skills caused routine comparisons to brother George, and humor is almost always involved when Tom Blanda stories are told. Tom was on the field with George when the Oilers played the Titans in New York. Late in the fourth quarter Tom was handed the clock controls. He was chagrined when referees whistled the game over and he still had time on the stadium clock. This story is only one in Tom’s repertoire, and as his yearbook states, “The Blanda joke is well known.”

Tom’s physical skills were honed through hard work and mental discipline. One night in the sinks he was witnessed throwing footballs while kneeling. He developed his arm strength for throwing long passes and to pitch on the Army Baseball Team. His mental discipline also paid off in academics as his presence on the USMA dean’s list attests.

Commissioned in Artillery, Tom started a fateful journey across the country to Fort Sill, OK. After visiting his brother George in Chicago, he continued his journey. He stopped at a diner in the little town of Miami, OK and struck up a conversation with the waitress, Brenda Whetstone. That was the beginning of a relationship that continued while Tom was at Fort Sill and Brenda was at the University of Oklahoma. Tom left Fort Sill for the 101st Airborne Division but after a few months made a major decision in his life. He drove back to Oklahoma and proposed to Brenda. They married in 1963 after her graduation. That fall they received orders for the 173d Airborne Brigade in Okinawa, but Tom was also invited to St. Louis, MO to try out for the Cardinals. They were “wined and dined” according to Brenda, and she was seated in the press box while Tom was on the field with the team for game day. He was offered a contract to be their back-up quarterback, but Tom decided his obligation to the Army had priority. It was a decision Tom never regretted, but Brenda had reason to when a year and a half later Tom was in Vietnam. His sense of humor endured, however. When asked by a reporter how he met his wife he joked, “She happened to be at the right place at the right time.”

In 1966, while at the advanced course, West Point asked Tom to scout his home area for football players. Army needed recruiting help during the transition to Coach Tom Cahill. Tom was then sent to RPI for a master’s degree in mathematics before returning to West Point to teach. During these three assignments Tom and Brenda welcomed Juli, Holly, and Katy to their family.

Tom loved teaching math at West Point. He had a reputation for his uniform being covered in chalk dust by the end of every day and for his weird sense of humor in the classroom. This memorable tour at West Point set the stage for Tom’s extremely successful 21-year teaching career.

A second tour in Vietnam as an advisor followed West Point, then assignments to CGSC, an enjoyable tour in Hawaii (where he was a duty officer aboard the PACOM airborne command center), and the Pentagon working classified plans. Tom and Brenda decided to retire to San Antonio, TX and received a final assignment to HQ5AR to close out his military career.

Tom’s love of teaching led to a professorship for 12 years at the University of the Incarnate Word. He continued his technique of weaving corny jokes into mathematical theory and created a math and engineering program for grades 7-10 that was recognized statewide. He grew concerned that too many students were unprepared for college level math. He believed he could help overcome this by moving to the Texas Military Institute, a religious military high school that boasts of many famous alumni, including General of the Army Douglas MacArthur.

He loved teaching at TMI and told Brenda he “felt like I’ve come home.” He worked with each student to assure their success and “danced a jig” in his kitchen on July 14, 2005 when the last round of students’ scores came in positive for advanced placement college math. He went to the driving range to celebrate. There he suffered a fatal heart attack and passed July 21, 2005.

TMI named the flagpole at their football stadium in his honor. Their Class of 2005 dedicated their yearbook to him, and among the most important tributes are personal notes from students and cadets throughout his career. One recently wrote to Brenda that “she found herself using the same crazy jokes that Mr. Blanda had used” and wanted Mrs. Blanda to know what an impact Tom had had on her life.

Tom leaves a wonderful legacy for his daughters and grandchildren—Thomas, Toby, Ruby and Trinity—and his alma mater, of humor, dedication, success, and loving help to others.

Be Thou at Peace.

— Brenda Blanda and Classmates