Remembering Mr. B. (Letter Box)

Friday November 30, 2012

Editor of the Reformer:

Today I learned of the passing of a man who was very important in my young adult life, and in the lives of hundreds if not thousands of other current and former BUHS students, Mr. Gary Blomgren, or as we all knew him, "Mr. B." Mr B. was by far and away the best teacher I ever had at BUHS, and he was also one of the kindest and most sincere people I’ve ever met. When I was at BUHS, his class was a haven for me, a safe place where I didn’t feel weird or out of place, and Mr B. always had a way of making me smile, even in the darkest of times; something that I never took for granted and never forgot. A little later on in life I had the good fortune to work with him at the local video store and to get to know him a little better, and there too he was always the most positive and upbeat person you could ever ask to be around. A few months ago, before I learned of his illness, I managed to bump into him in town and I got to tell him that my girlfriend, Megan (who was also in many of Gary’s art classes at BUHS), and I had gotten engaged, and he was just so genuinely happy for us. But he was always like that, he always went out of his way to talk to his former students, and he was always happy to see us and catch up with how we were doing. I feel truly blessed to have known this great and inspiring man and my thoughts and sympathies go out to Gary’s family, may they take comfort in knowing that he was loved by so many people in this community; he truly was a special person and he will be missed by many people.

So, in honor of this great member of our community and all the fond memories that so many of us have of him, and in honor of his commitment to all of us and our community and to the creation of art in school, I would like to propose a candle light vigil at the front entrance of BUHS this Friday From 7 - 8 p.m., so if anyone else wants to brave the cold and come out to remember him, please feel free to join me.

Glenn A Letourneau, Jr.,

Brattleboro, Nov. 29


Editor of the Reformer:

When I was 10 years old, I decided I wanted to be a cartoonist when I grew up. This notion was never challenged, but neither was it truly encouraged until I met Mr. B. I had just moved to Vermont in the middle of my sophomore year of high school and was still trying to find my place in a new town and a new school while facing the challenges of being a teenager. Mr. B’s Studio Art class became my safe haven. Mr. B himself became my mentor and trusted friend. I used every excuse to take his class for every semester I was at BUHS.

During my senior year, he let me take his class as an independent study where I explored making comics and researched colleges with cartooning programs. When it came time to put together a portfolio and fill out applications, Mr. B was there to help me every step of the way. He showed me how to shoot slides of my artwork and wrote me a glowing letter of recommendation. I submitted an early application to my school of choice and Mr. B was there to congratulate me when I was accepted.

I honestly can’t say I would have pursued a career in comics if it weren’t for Mr. B. I will always be eternally grateful for his enthusiasm and encouragement. He gave me the courage I needed to stay true to myself and to follow my heart no matter what. I think the best thing we can do to honor Mr. B’s memory is to never give up on our dreams and to shine as brightly as he believed we all could.

Megan Baehr,

Brattleboro, Nov. 29


Editor of the Reformer:

There are a few amazing people on this Earth that we can say inspired us to walk the path that we are on. They inspired us to follow our dreams and be the best we can possibly be by doing what we love.

One of those people was Gary Blomgren, who passed away on Wednesday. Our community and, more specifically us, has lost an amazing person.

Thank you for all that you have done, Mr. Blomgren. You are missed.

Zachary and Michelle Stephens,

co-owners, Studio Ten13,

Brattleboro, Nov. 30


Editor of the Reformer:

For a brief period of my life, when I was 20 years old and employed at First Run Video in Brattleboro, I actually enjoyed working on Mondays. Why was that? Why did I love working on Mondays of all wretched days?

Because Mondays were the days I worked with Gary Blomgren. The days when everything would get done with no stress, but with high quality conversation on a multitude of fascinating topics. The days that were guaranteed to be fun.

I never had him as a teacher, but rather worked with him from 2000 to 2004. During that time I had the honor of getting to know Gary, an experience I now value deeply.

It seems cliché to call someone a "Renaissance man", but Gary always seemed to me a polymath with a broad range of serious knowledge. I so enjoyed our lively conversations about art, history, the psychology of learning, and travel. Especially travel.

And yet he wasn’t some fancy untouchable person, flouncing about and speaking endlessly of himself. He was real. He had stories of wild times, which he shared with us freely. Stories of motorcycles and parties and the crazy things he and his friends used to get up to. Stories of Europe and Asia and freedom. Stories of when he first met his wife. (I never had the pleasure of knowing his wife as well, but those who did always told me she was as smart and cool as he was).

He made me feel special. He made me feel like a smart and attractive young lady with something to really offer the world. And when my father died suddenly, Gary showed me such immense kindness and comfort. He was never just a coworker who was much older than me. He was my friend.

What strikes me as truly beautiful is that I know this experience is not unique to myself. I wasn’t his daughter or protégé. I wasn’t even a student. I know there are many other people who felt special because of Gary. He had an amazing way of connecting with people (of all ages) that was so genuine and natural.

Everyone I’ve ever met who had him as a teacher absolutely raved about him. Everyone at First Run liked working with him. Even if you didn’t like a coworker at the video store you could both usually agree on one thing, Gary Blomgren was awesome.

He had good taste. His wife and kids meant so much to him. You could see how deeply he loved them. He was funny, caring, creative, and irreverent at all the perfect times. In fact I believe he elevated the timing of his comments to an art form in and of itself.

After I left the video store I only saw him a few times, and mainly just received messages from him through other people. As I write this after hearing the crushing news of his passing, I wish I had kept in touch with him more.

Gary, thank you for all the memories and laughter. RIP.

Amy Greenspan,

No town given, Nov. 30


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