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The heart of a true lifelong caregiver

According to her wishes, there will be no services held for Selma Blain, who passed away June 12 at the Grass Valley Care Center. She was 92. The family will meet for a celebration of life at a time and place to be arranged at a later date. Mrs. Blain, a longtime Nevada County resident, will be inurned next to her husband and family at the Penn Valley Cemetery, along with her sister and brother-in-law, Margaret and Tex Ilendfeldt and brother, Richie Blackwell.

Mrs. Blain was born April 8, 1915, to Elizabeth and Percival Blackwell, at home, in Azusa-Glendora. She had six sisters and one brother and lived the majority of her childhood in the Southern California area. Growing up during the Great Depression, the large family often struggled.

After her father was separated from his job on the railroad, the Blain family loaded into a early Model A flat bed truck, with a large Army tent in the back and traveled from Southern California to Roseburg, Ore., picking fruit. Mrs. Blain recalled the memories of playing on the river banks in coveralls with her sisters as some of the happiest times of her life.



Mrs. Blain graduated from Citrus Union High School with the class of 1935. In 1937, she completed the Associate of Arts program at Citrus Junior College. She continued her education in the field of nursing.

In high school, Mrs. Blain was known for her sense of history and accomplished tennis abilities. As the first graduating class after the Depression and the first receiving the benefits of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, Mrs. Blain and her classmates felt confident that their futures would be more secure than those of their parents.




On Dec. 22, 1939 Mrs. Blain married Norman W. Blain, of Monrovia. Mr. Blain’s family were cattle ranchers in Duarte. In 1950, Mr. and Mrs. Blain moved with their three children to their first ranch in Santa Margarita.

Shortly after a trip to Northern California in 1954 to visit relatives in Nevada County, the Blain family purchased a ranch in Penn Valley, where they lived for many years.

Owning the first house at the time with a built-in pool, the Blain household quickly became a local hangout for neighborhood children. Mrs. Blain seemed to always have three to four extra children for the duration of the summer. A caregiver at heart, Mrs. Blain would make both lunch and dinner for the rowdy crowd. Upon deciding that having a pool, many children and no lifeguard was too dangerous, Mrs. Blain held first aid and CPR classes at her home.

The Blain family was instrumental in the early development of the Penn Valley community, making a generous land grant for access to Indian Springs School. Selma and Norman were very active in the volunteer fire department, the origination of the Penn Valley Rodeo and the Penn Valley Women’s Auxiliary. Selma and Norman opened the first hardware store in Penn Valley.

Working in her yard and garden brought Mrs. Blain great pleasure and joy. She spent much of her time canning and preserving fruits and vegetables. Her home was always warm and clean, hospitable, filled with the fragrance of home cooking and often filled with lively conversation and music.

Returned to nursing

In 1962, Mrs. Blain went to work at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital where she returned to her original vocation, nursing for 27 years. Mr. Blain called his wife the “Florence Nightingale” of Sierra Nevada Memorial. Even on days with four to five feet of snow on the highway, Mrs. Blain found a way to forge through the weather.

Mrs. Blain’s specialty was inhalation therapy. She was the first person to use a respiratory device called the “bird machine.” Colleagues teased Mrs. Blain because the machine utilized Smirnoff Vodka, which was her drink of choice.

After her retirement, Mrs. Blain was instrumental in establishing a local epilepsy support group. She also attended watercolor painting classes. An avid reader, she could often be heard saying that “reading is the key to knowledge.”

She had a wonderful sense of humor. She was always able to find the good whenever a difficult situation arose.

She lived her life to the fullest and even as her health was waning throughout the last several years, she continued to maintain her good humor and carried herself with dignity and strength. She will be dearly missed by family and friends, but she leaves behind loving and lasting memories in the hearts of all who knew her.

Mrs. Blain is survived by her sons Michael Blain of Boise, Idaho, and Jeff Blain of Grass Valley; daughters Mary Blain Bolling of Fallon, Nev., and Roxanne Twitchell Eslick of Grass Valley; sisters Betty Ann Wilsford and Mary Jo Bobbilot; grandsons Jay Blain, Josh Blain, Harley Capps and Danny Bolling, Jr.; six great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

Anyone wishing to make a donation in Mrs. Blain’s name is encouraged to do so to Hospice of Grass Valley, Nevada County.

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To contact Staff Writer Lindsey Croft, e-mail lindseyc@theunion.com or call 477-4247.


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