Jewish Hall of Fame Biography of Blanche Pasternak (1906-1995)
Blanche grew up in Louisville, KY. where athletic endeavors were available to her at her high school. She excelled in track, basketball and volleyball, to name just a few. She was a gold medal winner at the annual state wide track meets that were held during the summers of her high school years. Her love of sports led her to a degree in physical education from DePaul University and into a career as a physical education instructor at a number of JYM&WA’s (Jewish Young Men’s and Women’s Association-the predecessor of today’s JCC)in the Mid-West. Louisville, Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago were a few of the cities in which she worked. It was not all work and no play for Blanche since, during the 1930’s, she played on several women’s semi-pro basketball teams that played in cities throughout the Mid-West. She also played in a semi-pro women’s volleyball league comprising of a number of teams from Kansas City and St. Louis. During her years in Chicago, the onset of World War II prompted her to become involved in the war efforts by becoming part of the committee that would eventually open a USO in Chicago in early 1942. She often worked all day at the Chicago JYM&WA and then worked until after midnight at the Chicago USO. After the war, Blanche took a position with the Rochester, JYM&WA as the women’s physical education director. It was there that she met her future husband, George. Giving up full time employment to care for her family, Blanche worked part time for the Rochester City School District, The Harley School, and the Rochester JCC at various times. She remained active in many Rochester Jewish organizations and kept physically active by playing racquetball, swimming and dancing. She also developed geriatric exercise programs and would visit her friends who were in the hospital or in a nursing home and would exercise with them to help in their recovery.