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Jo Tice Bloom ’55

June 18, 2019, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, of heart failure.

She was born Nancy Jo Fostvedt in Los Angeles, but from childhood she disliked the name Nancy. She preferred “Jo” and later legalized it. After her parents’ marriage failed, her mother married Fred Tice. Jo found the ideal father in her new stepfather and legally adopted his surname.

Jo finished her public-school education in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago and then started at Reed, the alma mater of her mother, Opal Weimer Tice ’22. Years later, the Opal Weimer Tice Memorial Scholarship was established, requiring recipients to have participated through all levels of the Girl Scouts. Although, Jo was only at Reed for a year, she said, “It was a thrill to discover that my mind, my intellect, was valued for its achievements and for its iconoclasm. Not until I reached graduate school many years later did I find a similar intellectual environment.”

She finished her undergraduate work in education at Northwestern University and taught at secondary schools for two years in eastern Oregon. She was overtaken by a desire for graduate studies in something else, and choosing American history as her subject, earned both a master’s degree and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In 1968, she married John Porter Bloom ’44, a graduate of Reed’s Army Pre-Meteorology Program.

Jo did residencies at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, Bowie State College, and the University of Maryland, and was awarded a Fulbright-Hays lectureship at Kabul University in Afghanistan. She lectured at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, California State University, Sacramento, the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, and New Mexico State University.

She retired in New Mexico, a place she had loved as a 17-year-old Girl Scout participating in the “Dirty Diggers” summer program of notable Sante Fe archaeologist and ethnologist Bertha Dutton. Shepherded all over northern New Mexico and Arizona, teenage Girl Scouts examined ruins and met Pueblo and other Native Americans. Jo helped edit a book on Dutton’s Dirty Diggers. She reviewed and edited books and wrote articles on historical topics that appeared in at least a dozen journals.

In 1992, Jo wrote a letter to Reed Magazine saying: “Buildings may change. The Doyle Owl may disappear and reappear. The library entrances may change. But the intangible, the challenge to the intellect, the lack of social graces and maturity on the part of freshmen, the mental exercise, the Honor Code, the delight of fantastic discussion, the joy of learning—these do not change.”

She is survived by her husband, John, and her three children, Katherine, Susan, and John.


Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2019

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