Blanche M. Crosby was a passionate, caring and determined woman who always gave selflessly to enrich the lives of those around her. She was an incredibly generous woman who changed people’s lives for the better. By expressing her love through actions, her words and her faith, Blanche provided a strong and benevolent foundation for her family. With her kind and generous heart coupled with her vivacious spirit, Blanche brought love and life to all those within her reach.
The year was 1924 and Calvin Coolidge had assumed the presidency after the death of President Harding the prior year. Prohibition laws were creating legends out of gangsters and bootleggers and J. Edgar Hoover became the head of the FBI. Meanwhile, the Charleston dance craze set the tempo for what would come to be known as the “Roaring Twenties.” On July 25th, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, little Blanche arrived into the world. She was the fourth of five children born to Nicholas and Lucille (DeWolf) Alessi. Blanche grew up in a loving home in the Italian neighborhood around First and Vine Streets with her two brothers, Mariano and Michael, and two sisters, Antonia and Josephine. She had many happy childhood memories, playing with her friends and going to school. However, her family suffered a great loss when her oldest brother, Mariano, died at the age of 12.
A bright and energetic girl, Blanche was an excellent student in school and participated in gymnastics club as part of her physical education class. Her favorite subject, however, was English, as she mastered writing and oratory. Her passion for words led her to become a secretary later in life and the “letter writer of the family.” Blanche penned many beautiful Christmas Family Letters over the years. She wasn’t one to hold her tongue either if someone was butchering the English language. She sent many a letter to editors of magazines and newspapers, correcting their use of terminology or to set a story straight. Being a “word smith”, it was only natural that Blanche enjoyed doing any kind of word games or puzzles like Scrabble and Jeopardy.
Blanche graduated from Lincoln High School in 1942. Then, in the spring of 1945, her life took a new direction when she met James Crosby, a young man from Buffalo, New York who was serving in the U.S. Coast Guard. The two went on a blind date to a social event in Milwaukee, and with that, their love story began. After a whirlwind courtship of just three months, Blanche and Jim were married in St. Nicholas Church in Buffalo, New York on August 25, 1945. The newlyweds settled down in New York State. It was here that they welcomed the birth of their first child, daughter Kathleen, in 1946. Two years later, their second daughter, Allison, was born in Blasdell. By the time their son, Patrick, was born in 1953, they had moved to Milwaukee, near Blanche’s family.
Blanche was a devoted wife and mother. Though not in vogue, Blanche worked outside the home while caring for her husband and young children. At this time, Blanche was hired at Manpower Inc. as the Executive Secretary to the Vice President where her strong work ethic, talents and dedication to the company earned her high praises and reputation lauded by many. Throughout her business career, Blanche continued her education finding Business Law her love and specialty. Later, Blanche went to work as a secretary in the Milwaukee County Judicial System – Family Court for nine years, during which time she became quite knowledgeable of the judicial system. After retiring, Blanche got her fix of the law by watching Court TV shows, like Judge Judy and police dramas. In fact, she had a police scanner that she fell asleep to many a night. Throughout her fulfilling career, Blanche was a serving member of a number of professional women groups, both locally and nationally.
Aside from her family and her work, Blanche had a special gift in her heart for singing. For over 60 years, she used her beautiful soprano voice to sing praise in various church choirs on Milwaukee’s East Side. Her most endearing trait, however, was her immensely generous heart. Blanche’s giving nature overflowed to family, friends, her church and being involved with the St. Vincent de Paul Society. She bought washing machines for people in need, and there were many a handshake that one would walk away with a $20 bill in their hand, a kind gesture of Blanche’s love and friendship. Blanche was a woman cut of the warmest cloth, who always volunteered her time, effort and love.
To her family, Blanche was one of the most strong-minded people. So much so, her husband Jim affectionately called her “Stub” – short for stubborn. Even Blanche’s car license plate bore this nickname. An example of her great tenacity was the quilt she had been making as a member of the church quilting club. It took her 20 years to complete “one” quilt, something she took great pride in though her family wasn’t sure whether she was actually proud of her accomplishment or the fact that it was finally done. Blanche had a very “sarcastic” sense of humor, and was known to be brutally honest, yet she always had wise counsel for her family and friends and never wanted them to be anything but who they are.
Blanche had many hobbies that she enjoyed over the years. She loved to be outdoors, working in the garden and feeding the birds or other animals at her home along the Milwaukee River. She enjoyed antique shopping and became quite proficient on the Internet researching the history and purpose of her favorites in her collection.
In the spring of 2010, Blanche suffered another heart attack from which she took most of the summer to recover. She remained strong of mind, but physically became challenged. Since December, 2010, she suffered numerous bouts of congestive heart failure during home care, rehab care and hospice care until passing quietly away on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital in Milwaukee.
Blanche was preceded in death by her beloved husband, James C. Crosby. Cherished mother of Kathleen (Jeffrey) Smith, Allison (Richard) Jaworski and Patrick Crosby. Further survived by 8 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren, other relatives and friends.
Visitation will be on Monday, March 7, at Suminski Family Funeral Homes from 5:00PM until time of the Prayer Service at 7:00PM. Funeral Mass will be at 11:00AM on Tuesday, March 8, at Three Holy Women Parish – St. Hedwig Church, 1702 N. Humboldt Avenue (MEET AT CHURCH). In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Blanche’s name to Three Holy Women Legacy Fund or St. Vincent de Paul Society. Suminski Family Funeral Homes – Suminski/Weiss, 1901 N. Farwell Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (414 276-5122). Please visit Blanche’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you may share a memory, upload a photo and/or sign her online guest book.