Blanche Merritt Keels Kammer Monroe

Published 6:57 pm Monday, July 29, 2019

Blanche Merritt Keels Kammer Monroe passed away Thursday, July 25, 2019, at Vidant Medical Center from complications of chronic heart disease.

A memorial service was held Monday at 11 a.m. at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Bath. Ennichement followed in the Church Columbarium.

Blanche was born in Princeton, New Jerset, to James Merritt Keels and Helen Marcolini Keels on Sept. 24, 1940, and was adopted in infancy by her aunt and uncle after her mother died as a result of childbirth. Briggs and Amarynthia (Ryn) raised Blanche in Sanford, where she graduated from Lee County High School then attended East Carolina University, graduating with a BS in Primary Education. She and Bill began dating in college and married on June 25, 1962. Blanche began her first career as an elementary teacher in Hillsborough, while Bill attended medical school, served in Vietnam and completed his residency in ophthalmology.

They settled in Greenville in 1970, where Blanche made her life and family serving others, becoming an accomplished cook, artist, historian and naturalist. With boundless enthusiasm, Blanche served on numerous boards supporting the arts and the medical community. Her engagement with the Greenville Museum of Art led to her personal interest in becoming an artist. At the age of 39, she went back to East Carolina University and over 10 years, earned both a BFA and MFA in Painting. Blanche’s creativity, expressed in an eclectic style with a focus on texture and design, was best portrayed in her large abstract paintings and marbled silk fabrics. She exhibited her works frequently and was the recipient of numerous awards. MARBELOUS, an artist company, was founded by Blanche in 1988 as a result of her love and study of East Asian and European paper marbling techniques.

Bath became Blanche’s new home in 1994, as she and Bill began spending their time at “the River.” She immersed herself in the colonial culture of Bath, its historical significance and the natural beauty surrounding the area. She received a Master gardener certification and focused on historical landscapes, expressing her creativity in design at the Bonner House and St. Thomas Episcopal Church. She was appointed by the N.C. Governor to serve on the Historic Bath Commission and was an active member in the Historic Bath Foundation and the Historic Bath Garden Club. St. Thomas Episcopal became her church home, where she served as a docent and on the vestry.

Blanche always welcomed her family and friends with wisdom, laughs and delicious meals to share. She and Bill shared a true love and supported each other without fail. Time spent with her children and grandchildren was cherished by all. Many memories were made in her kitchen making Christmas cookies and pound cakes, playing the piano together, working on her special Christmas cards and swinging on the porch listening to her many poems about the beauty of nature right in front of her. Her creativity, strong personality and sense of independence were perfectly balanced by acceptance and love.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Briggs Buist Kammer and Amarynthia Keels Kammer.

She is survived by her husband of 57 years, William (Bill) Murchison Monroe; her son, William (Will) Murchison Monroe, Jr. (Helen Thomas); her daughters, Christina Monroe Teague (Nelson) and Melissa Monroe Anderson (Martin); and her grandchildren, Merritt Anderson, Anna-Gray Anderson, Will Teague, Caroline Teague, Kate Monroe, Alex Monroe and Rachel Monroe.

Memorial contributions may be made to the ECU School of Art and Design or the charity of your choice.

Arrangements are by Wilkerson Funeral Home and Crematory.

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