|Birth: ||Jan. 25, 1921|
|Death: ||Feb. 11, 2010|
East Baton Rouge Parish
Biography written by Evelyn Park Blalock. Please do not publish elsewhere without providing full and proper credit. Thank you.
Click here to view all of the photos and read the captions
* HOT TODDY!!! *
Thelma was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Thomas Stanborough of Australia and Catherine Johnson Stanborough of New Orleans. She had two brothers, Zachariah T. Stanborough and Thomas William Stanborough. Thelma had a tumultuous childhood, with a seafaring dreamer for a father balanced by a forthright and fiesty Irishwoman for a mother. Despite this, Thelma emerged as a beautiful and outgoing girl. She was selected as the Belle of Metairie and was also very active in school clubs. Following graduation from Metairie High School, Thelma took secretarial courses and dabbled with modeling, appearing in some print advertisements and billboards in the New Orleans area. She also worked as a secretary at the Avondale Shipyard.
During World War II, Thelma began her service as a civilian employee at the Army Air Base Sub-Depot in New Orleans, receiving her appointment in March 1942. She transferred to Esler Army Air Base (later known as England Air Force Base) in Alexandria, Louisiana, in June 1943. Thelma was popular among base personnel, and was featured in several articles that appeared in the base newspaper. One article highlighted her love of football, her surprising understanding of the intricacies of the game, and her ability to accurately quote statistics. She developed quite a following there, and continued to write back to every soldier who contacted her after they were sent to active duty. It appears that quite a few of the pinup photos she had taken during her modeling days ended up in duffle bags across the sea! When her assignment at Esler ended, she was presented with the airplane propellor that hung in the Officers' Club.
After the war, Thelma was excited to be selected as a flight attendant for Chicago-and-Southern, one of the first commercial airlines. After hearing so many stories of far-away places from her father and brothers, she was ready to explore the world outside of Louisiana. She typically flew the South American and Caribbean routes from New Orleans and Miami, frequently encountering celebrities on her flights. Thelma can be seen prominently photographed in several of the early articles printed about the airline in historical newspapers.
Thelma was still flying when a friend suggested that she should go on a blind date with one of his fraternity brothers, Dennis F. Blalock. Dennis had returned to school after serving in World War II, and Thelma felt an instant connection with him. Soon, they were married in a private ceremony in New Roads, Louisiana. Flight attendants were not allowed to be married in those days, and since Thelma loved flying, she did not want to reveal news about the nuptials to her employer. The secret finally came out about a year later, when morning sickness gave her away while expecting her first child. Thelma reluctantly joined the ranks of Clipped Wings, a social club for those stewardesses who had chosen family over career. Together, Thelma and Dennis had two children (and eventually, four grandchildren).
As her family grew, Thelma became an administrative assistant for the Director at the Marjorie Walters School in New Orleans. She needed to contribute to the family income while Dennis established his career, but she also loved being an at-home mom. With school-time hours, this job allowed her to do both. The family moved to Baton Rouge in 1971, when Dennis was promoted and transferred with Matlack Trucking. From this point on, Thelma stayed out of the workforce and focused all of her attention on being the best wife and mother she could be.
Eccentric and fun, Thelma was known later in life for her polka dots and animal print clothing, her floppy hats, her friendliness, and her easy smile. Her passion for Saints football also remained for life. She was adored by her grandchildren, who called her Toddy (for the drink Hot Toddy) and also by many of the neighborhood children, who called her Sally (simply because she liked the name!). She is remembered and missed.
Other members in Thelma's family who served during World War II include her husband, Dennis Ferrell Blalock (a decorated infantry commander with the Army); her brothers, Thomas William Stanborough (in the Navy, a survivor of the U.S.S. Arizona, later died in the Solomon Sea) and Zachariah T. Stanborough (a bomber pilot with the Army Air Corps); her father, Thomas Stanborough (a naturalized American who served as Ship's Master with the Merchant Marine, sunk by U-158 in the Gulf of Mexico); and numerous cousins.
A note about mental illness: This appears at the bottom of Thelma's biography because SHE made sure that depression and mental illness did not define her. Throughout her life, Thelma did battle with depression, but she sought help. She was able to live a full, happy, and rewarding life as a result. Sadly, she developed Alzheimer's disease in her final years, and this was too difficult for her to overcome. Research into mental illnesses such as depression and Alzheimer's disease continues to provide improved treatments and, hopefully, will one day lead to a cure for each of these conditions.
Thomas Stanborough (1894 - 1962)
Catherine Annie Cora Johnson Stanborough (1887 - 1966)
Dennis F. Blalock (1917 - 1995)
Zachariah T. Stanborough (1915 - 2006)*
Thelma Rita Stanborough Blalock (1921 - 2010)
Thomas William Stanborough (1922 - 1943)*
Port Hudson National Cemetery
East Baton Rouge Parish
Plot: SECTION I SITE 389
Maintained by: EveyBl
Originally Created by: LMB
Record added: Feb 14, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 48115335