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Ethel Blank, 79: Organized art exhibitions at Los Altos Hills Town Hall

Mrs. Blank

For Los Altos Hills resident Ethel Blank, trips to art museums and theater productions were integral parts of life. She organized cultural excursions with friends and produced art exhibitions for town hall.

Mrs. Blank, a mainstay in town social clubs, died Jan. 4 after a bout with cancer. She was 79.

The former New Yorker came to California in 1956 with her husband, Julius, who became one of the founders of Fair-child Semiconductor. They lived in Palo Alto for 10 years before moving to Los Altos Hills in 1966. The Blanks had been married nearly 60 years.

Friends and family recall fondly a strong-willed, cultured woman who was passionate about the visual arts.

"She was always inclined that way since I knew her," Julius said last week.

Mrs. Blank earned degrees in interior design from Canãda College and San Jose State University, which led to her role as an art curator.

She was a longtime member of a Los Altos Hills women's club and a local home and garden club. She was a past president of the women's club, and also led the garden club.

Mrs. Blank enjoyed dining in restaurants and traveling, especially to Europe and the Far East, Julius said.

She was a regular patron of the San Jose Repertory Theatre.

"She and I went to a lot of art galleries," said Corinne Oberlin, a friend who met Mrs. Blank approximately 10 years ago through the women's club.

In 1995, Mrs. Blank began organizing regular art exhibitions at Los Altos Hills Town Hall. She retired in 2001 but returned to stage exhibitions after town hall was rebuilt in 2005.

Her last exhibition, "Facets of Perception: Eighteen Artists Interpret the Pomegranate," was well received.

"She loved the more modern art," said friend Duffy Price, who also called Mrs. Blank, "a woman of contrasts."

Mrs. Blank was a familiar sight walking her two large Schnauzers around town.

Julius described his wife as "a warm, loving person, a very strong-willed character. … She was a pusher. She made up her mind to do things and she did them."

"She didn't suffer fools easily," added Price. "She had strong opinions on what to do and how to do it."

"She was positive and outgoing, interested in all creative life, all creative people," Oberlin said.

Despite battling cancer after being diagnosed in July, Mrs. Blank attended Fair-child's 50th anniversary celebration with Julius in October.

"A great loss for me," Julius said. "I'll miss her."

In addition to Julius, Mrs. Blank is survived by two sons, Jeffrey of Cupertino and David of Sacramento; and two grandchildren.

No services are currently planned. Julius suggested donations to the American Cancer Society may be made in Mrs. Blank's memory.

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