|Birth: ||Jun. 13, 1889, France|
|Death: ||Sep. 24, 1974|
Blanche Amalie Augustine Gerbet was born June 13, 1889, in Arbois, Jura, Franche-Comte, France, to Louis-Etienne Gerbet and Marie Augustine Paris. She was the fourth child and first daughter which brought her mother much joy. She had three older brothers: Auguste, Emile, and Louis.
Her mother doted on her until she died of tuberculosis when Blanche was only four years old. Her father was busy and did not know what to do with a daughter so he basically let her run "wild." He married another woman when Blanche was six--mainly because people convinced him his little girl needed a woman's touch. This was not the one. She resented her and was verbally and physically abusive. (Later she told me that she thought the woman was mentally ill and probably misunderstood by people which made her mean. I never thought about asking her what her father thought of the woman--hindsight is 20-20.) Blanche received some injuries which later in her life brought much physical pain and consternation.
Strong-minded and independent she left home at the age of 16 to go to Hungary. She was a governess there. She never returned except now and then for very quick visits. She was on her own. That fierceness of will remained with her all her life.
During World War I, she was living and working in Verdun--where one of the major battles occurred. Just before the siege she was able to leave with a fortunate group of people on the last train out. She watched as the French soldiers pulled up the tracks to prevent the German Army from using it for supplies or attack. Her fiance, a French soldier, was killed during this "War to end all wars".
With nothing to hold her back, she took advantage of the 'cry' for foreign governesses and came to the United States. She was working as a nanny in Georgia when she met Rene Duval in a theater. He charmed her and they married.
They moved all over. Suzanne was born in New Jersey and Annette was baptized in Pennsylvania. Just before the Depression Blanche took the girls to France--Arbois/Poligny. They lived in a boarding school there while she worked as a domestic in Paris. She told me that is where she learned to really cook! Her employer was a serious chef who was pleased in her interest and expected perfection.
During World War II, she worked at the Cite Universitaire as a nurse--later helping nurse survivors of the concentration camps, sometimes using just a drop of food from an eyedropper because that is all they could stand.
Annette got tuberculosis also. She died in Paris with Blanche near her in 1947. Suzanne had returned to the U.S., married, and was working to bring Annette here for care. Instead, Blanche and Rene returned here and worked at various places in the East (one of which was with the Atwater Kent family whose children adopted her as "Granny." She loved it. She decided that is how she wanted her grandchildren to address her, we did.) She and Rene moved to Idaho in 1957, lived in Los Angeles for awhile and then again back to Idaho.
We were very fortunate to have our grandmother near us. She taught me how to read. She could laugh, had a wonderfully wicked sense of humor, knew how to engage children with great stories, and loved us. How could we not resist that? We were also happy to present her with two great-grandsons before she died.
Mother of Susanne Duval Fonnesbeck
Thank you to Collins for the transfer of my "Granny" pfp
Jules Rene Duval (1876 - 1969)*
Suzanne Duval Fonnesbeck (1921 - 2004)*
Annette Duval (1923 - 1947)*
Rose Hill Cemetery
Maintained by: Pat Pitcher
Originally Created by: Collins Crapo
Record added: Apr 25, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 14075927