Elizabeth Blackwelder, 1920–2014

Elizabeth June (Gerrard) Blackwelder, 93, La Cañada Flintridge, Calif., died at home of natural causes Jan. 15, 2014. She was born June 17, 1920, in Evanston, Ill., and grew up in Atherton, Calif. She studied biology at Stanford University and during World War II was a member of the WAVES division of the Navy, assigned to the Naval Medical Research Institute, where she worked on the development of emergency life raft rations, among other projects. After the war, she returned to college at UCLA, earning a bachelor’s degree in zoology.

In 1950 she married Spencer Blackwelder, a real estate broker. She managed the insurance arm of the business.

FFRF only recently learned of her death, said Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Elizabeth and Spencer joined FFRF in 1978 and were among our earliest members. Freethought Today published articles by Spencer in its early editions. I enjoyed corresponding with them. They were always stalwart supporters of freethought and secularism.”

A Los Angeles Times obituary noted Elizabeth’s love of horses and her ride aboard Chungo across the nation in 1976 to observe American’s bicentennial. Her horseback ride as part of a wagon train took six months from California to Valley Forge, Pa.

She was preceded in death by her husband in 1996. Survivors include three sons, Steven of Dana Point, Robert of La Cañada Flintridge and Clyde of San Juan Capistrano; a daughter, Lenora of Glendale; and two grandchildren.

“I remember Liz’s warm hospitality when she invited me to stay in her home during a speaking tour in southern California,” said Dan Barker, FFRF co-president. “Our thoughts go out to her family and friends.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation