Journalist and international Red Cross volunteer, Blanche Gordon Narodick graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington and earned a masters degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, launching her career as a journalist, ghost writer, and public relations consultant. Raised in part by her aunt and uncle, she met her husband, Dr. Phillip Narodick, in graduate school and refers to their partnership as a “true love story.” During World War II Blanche worked with the American Red Cross and has continued that affiliation, initiating an international chapter in Seattle, promoting “Holocaust tracing” helping Jewish families locate relatives, and founding a sister chapter in Shanghai, China. For her work, the ARC awarded Blanche the Harriman Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service in 1989. Blanche Gordon Narodick died on March 2, 2008.
“My father was an extremely bright, a very intelligent man. The first thing that I remember about him is his constantly telling me, ‘Keep going to school. What you learn is yours. They can take everything else away from you but no one can take away from you what you’ve learned.’ And it was a lesson I never forgot. I’m still learning.
“I taught my son the values of ethics, ethics and truthfulness. Don’t try lying to your mother because it never works.
“My husband Philip and I were completely devoted to each other. What was important about that marriage was not only the love, but the respect. I think Philip considered me a truly equal partner. Even back then. And I remember we were talking to some friends at one time and the friend said to him, ‘Well how does it feel to be married to such a smart woman?’ And he said, ‘So far she’s never put me down!’ I learned. Don’t always correct people because everybody makes mistakes.
“Philip and I were among the first to get into China after Nixon opened it up. We went the next year with a group of doctors. One thing we learned in China is how they take care of their elderly so beautifully. They fed them, they cared for them, they don’t have to go hungry.
“Aging is no fun but you accept it. This is the way of life. Every life has to die, but I don’t think about dying. I think about all the things I still have to do, all the things I still have to learn.
“I am learning about the beginnings of other people. How different we Jews are, all Jews, and how much we have in common. But our beginnings are all so different. I listen to the stories of different Jewish women and I am in wonder.
“My greatest achievement I think, is my grandchildren. You want to live ethically, morally, you want to be able to give others the benefit of the doubt. I feel sometimes in my younger lifetime I was too critical of other people. I expected too much. And as I grow older, I’ve lost that. Don’t clutter up your life with regrets. Don’t live in the past, live in the present and look to the future. Give, give as much as you can in any way that you’re able.”
© 2004 Jewish Women’s Archive. Photographs by Joan Roth.