Blanche McKinney Brumbeloe
Blanche McKinney Brumbeloe, 90, of Blackshear and Peachtree Corners, passed away Monday, December 7, 2020, of natural causes, following a brief illness.
She was born in Blackshear June 28, 1930 to the late David Earle McKinney and Louise Cooper McKinney. Like many small-town girls, she spent her childhood living in “Mayberry” -- playing with friends, cousins and her sister, Frances; participating in church activities; taking piano lessons from Miss Marion Williams’ music school, and graduating from Blackshear High, where she excelled in writing, drama and academics. Her senior year was especially noteworthy as she was inducted into the National Beta Club; played the leading role in the Senior Competition Play; served as Secretary/Treasurer of the Senior Class; awarded “Best Girl Citizen of the Year” by the Georgia Citizens Council, won a state-wide American Association for the United Nations essay contest and was crowned “Miss BHS” of 1947.
She furthered her education at LaGrange College, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1951 with a double major in Speech/Drama and English. During her college career, she was a member of Kappa Phi sorority; president of Alpha Psi Omega Dramatic Fraternity; and president of the LaGrange College Curtain Raisers. She appeared in more than 20 different stage productions and was awarded Best Actress in 1950. She also was one of three seniors chosen for “Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges”, received distinction as an Honor Graduate and selected Senior Superlative.
Following college graduation, she was awarded a theatrical apprenticeship with the Barter Theatre in Abbington, VA. She traveled throughout the southeastern United States performing a variety of on and offstage roles for two years. She returned to Blackshear in November 1953 and married Kenneth Ponnell Brumbeloe, her college sweetheart. They spent the first three years of marriage stationed in Germany where he was an Air Force reconnaissance pilot.
She returned to the states in 1956 and landed right back in Blackshear. She was a writer with The Blackshear Times and later secretary at First United Methodist Church. In the mid-1960’s, she and her husband founded Brumbeloe & Associates Independent Insurance Agency. She served as bookkeeper/office manager and together with a talented group of associates built the agency to operate three locations -- Blackshear, Waycross and Jesup.
In addition to her work in the family business, she carried on her love of theater, co-founding the Pierce County Arts Alliance where she and her husband directed and performed in productions such as “The Curious Savage” and Blackshear’s bicentennial celebration “Sing Out Sweet Land.” Through the years, she enjoyed writing and directing plays for the youth at her beloved First United Methodist church and ultimately, wrote and co-directed a musical of the Easter Passion Play, performed many Holy weeks by the church’s entire congregation. She was a chorale pianist most of her early life, and in her late 50’s, she took organ lessons and went on to play the organ for services until her mid-80’s.
Many locals will also remember her involvement in Waycross Area Community Theatre (WACT), starring in such classics as “Glass Menagerie,” “Steel Magnolias” and “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Although performing was her first love, she enjoyed helping backstage, building sets, selling tickets, putting up marque posters, stage managing and even directing. She never needed to be the center of attention. Her primary desire was to work alongside fellow artisans, bringing stories to life through the magic of live theater. In 1995, she was awarded the WACT Award for “Dedicated Service On and Off Stage.”
In 2015, she relocated to Peachtree Corners, near her three children and eight grandchildren. She resided at Village Park Senior Living where she played the piano for the weekly Christian church service until her 89th birthday. She was dearly loved by her family and countless friends. Her life was certainly a life well lived – filled with grace, love, passion and “joie de vie” worth emulating.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Kenneth Ponnell Brumbeloe and sister, Frances McKinney Hartman.
Survivors include her three children: David Kenneth Brumbeloe (Martha), White, Lisa Brumbeloe Fletcher (Van), Duluth and William Kevin Brumbeloe (Joy), Brooks and eight grandchildren, Sarah Brumbeloe Lewis (Cameron), Jared Brumbeloe (Rebecca), Catherine Fletcher Reinecker (Dominic), Van Fletcher Jr; Christopher Brumbeloe, Jackson Brumbeloe (Danielle), Hannah Fletcher and Jenner Brumbeloe.
Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, from the First United Methodist Church in Blackshear.
Interment will be in the Blackshear City Cemetery.
The family will visit with friends after the committal at the graveside.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in her memory to First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 127, Blackshear, GA 31516.
Due to COVID-19, social distancing practices along with the use of facemasks will be required.
Sympathy may be expressed by signing the online register at www.pearsondial.com.
Pearson-Dial Funeral Home of Blackshear is in charge of arrangements.