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Kim Blanchar loved life aggressively. She loved language, she loved people, she loved to laugh. Giving life to others put breath in her lungs.

Were it not for her bright mind, she might’ve been in a vegetative state years ago. That’s what multiple sclerosis, a disease the affects the brain and spinal cord, does. But as her body gave way over the years, her all-consuming curiosity kept her going.

The former Brebeuf Jesuit teacher died peacefully of the coronavirus at IU West Hospital in Avon on April 16 at the age of 68.

Blanchar was a cheerleader at Jefferson High School in Lafayette, where she graduated in 1969. And there might not be a more apt way to describe how she lived her life.

“She had that contagious kind of personality,” said Linda Long, who knew Blanchar since childhood. “When you were around her, she lit up a room.”

Blanchar loved French, which she taught at Brebeuf, and she loved to travel. She took trips with a group of high school friends even after her declining health forced her to retire from teaching. A group of eight women visited Las Vegas in 2005.

“She was on her own going through the casinos in Las Vegas and just having the best time,” Long said. “We would have so much fun because she made everybody laugh. She never was talking about the negative things in her life.”

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Her infectious personality was a staple at Brebeuf. She coached cheerleading, was a speech meet judge and spent time as an assistant golf coach — despite not knowing much about the sport.

“If there was a need, she’d give it a try,” Bowman said.

She had to retire in 2004 as her health declined and caused complications.

Still, her spirit persisted.

As her health continued to decline, Blanchar moved out of her home and in with her mother, Beverly Howard, in 2014. The loss of independence and social opportunity was devastating.

“Socializing was so important to her,” her sister Tammy Bowman said. “She loved to go exercise. She loved to talk sports. She loved the Indianapolis Colts. She loved the Pacers.”

She found ways to socialize when possible, attending various disability fellowship groups.

Last year, Bowman and her niece took Blanchar to her 50th high school reunion.

“We couldn’t hardly get in the door. There were so many people,” Tammy Bowman said. “She had people coming up to her nonstop.”

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