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Richard Walton Blohm ’48

“I cannot remember ever being unaware of Reed College,” Dick wrote. His grandparents came to Oregon via the Oregon Trail from Missouri. Many of his relatives and friends went to Reed, including his mother, Margaret Walton Blohm ’17; aunt, Helen Walton Manlove ’15; and cousins Charles Manlove ’43, Paul Manlove ’45, and John Manlove ’55. The earlier grads told stories of Campus Day and Canyon Day, steamer trips up the Columbia, and espoused the curriculum and faculty, Dick wrote. “It all seemed to be of a piece to them, and yet more—they shared the sense of the ‘Quest’ in a very real way.”

His own experience at Reed involved sports, hiking, music, theatre, Doyle Owl escapades, and meeting Barbara Hathaway Kellogg-Smith ’46, a pre-med student who intended a career in veterinary medicine. Called into military service during World War II, Dick was in Texas when the couple married in 1944. After he completed a degree in economics at Reed, they moved to Massachusetts, where he earned an MBA at Harvard. He worked for Lincoln Mercury and Ford Motor Company—moving from Massachusetts to Michigan, and then to California, where he worked for Lockheed Missile.

Rapid development and population growth in the Santa Clara Valley provided the couple and their growing family with an incentive to move. They arrived at Hathaway’s 100-acre family farm near the Chester River in Maryland in 1970. Their portion of the farm included room for horses, a dream come true for Hathaway. Dick managed the farm, and the buildings and machinery, and operated a business via the internet. They sold their farm in later years for a small cottage in the woods.

Following Hathaway’s death in 2003, Dick reported that he was “learning to live alone, finding usefulness, and getting adjusted to being superfluous.” But adventure called to him and he outfitted a 1990 Volkswagen Vanagon in the fashion of a covered wagon and spent three months on the road in 2005, driving the Oregon Trail, accompanied by his dachshund Taylor. “Being a second generation Oregonian, I had grown up hearing stories from my grandfather about his family’s crossing of the prairies, the mountains, and rivers, with a wagon train headed to Oregon.” Dick says the stories were “pieces of a puzzle” he mused about, and hoped to piece together one day.

In 2008, Dick and Taylor made an 8,000-mile car trip, first to Florida, and then along the Gulf of Mexico to Texas. They traveled to San Diego and up the West Coast, with stops at Reed and in Everett, Washington, where his brother, Philip, lived. Their return trip to Maryland included travel through Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, and West Virginia. What impressed him most on his trip, he reported, was the perspective he gained about the condition of the planet, its human population, and the planet’s ability to survive destruction. “What mankind does on the face of the earth is really inconsequential.” And reflecting on Reed, Dick wrote that the longer he lived, the more he appreciated his undergraduate experience. “Reed’s independence and focus on quality education are priceless.”

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2015

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