Blanche Marie Hunckler, 100, a resident of Huntington for many years, passed away on Monday, December 7, 2020, at Heritage Pointe, Warren, IN. Blanche was born in New Castle, IN, on July 30, 1920, the daughter of Frank J. and Antoinette (Koesters) Sturm. Mrs. Hunckler married Staff Sergeant Paul J. Hunckler on April 5, 1945, and celebrated with a Nuptial Mass in St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Marion, IN. He preceded her in death on January 26, 2009.
Blanche Marie is survived by five sons, Charles J. (Lisa) Hunckler, Cincinnati, OH, John Hunckler, Indianapolis, IN, Frank Hunckler, Ooltewah, TN, Matthew (Anita) Hunckler, South Bend, IN, Robert (Andrea June) Hunckler, Fort Gratiot, MI; two daughters, Anne (Norman) Hommes, Corvallis, OR, Mary Kay (Daniel) Gleason, Indianapolis, IN; 30 grandchildren and 34 great grandchildren.
In addition to her parents and loving husband she was preceded in death by two sons, Gregory Hunckler, Joseph Hunckler; one great grandchild; two daughters-in-law, Sally Hunckler and Melissa Hunckler.
Blanche Marie was a member of SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, and former officer in the Rosary Society, served as Eucharistic Adoration Coordinator, and was a member of the Daughters of Isabella. She served three years on the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocesan Board “Pro-Life Policy and Planning Committee” chaired by Bishop William E. McManus. Bishop Leo A. Pursley kept her apprised of the national developments of the Pro-Life movement.
In 1974 Blanche co-founded Huntington County Gift of Life, which became Huntington County Right to Life, Inc., served as finance chairman for twenty years, and served continuously on the board since 1974. Blanche Marie worked tirelessly for the preservation of the unborn, and for assistance to mothers and their babies. From 1980 to 1985, through Sister Ann Christine’s Apostolic Works program she had the privilege of instructing Huntington Catholic High School senior students twice weekly on Pro-Life involvement, helping them to understand all aspects of the issue before they went off to college. Each student prepared a file with fully documented material to write a paper, speak, or debate. This also enabled them to give accurate information in casual dormitory discussions.
She was co-founder of Gollner Guild for Life, which, through the annual Teddy Bear fair, raised funds that Right to Life used to provide educational materials and to assist in pregnancy-related needs. She helped establish Healthy Babies, and worked closely with Huntington County social-service agencies, physicians, nurses and local ministers of all faiths, attempting to ensure that all needs were met. Her husband, Paul, always gave her strong support.
Blanche Marie graduated from St. Paul’s High School, Marion, IN; as valedictorian; graduated as a registered nurse from St. Vincent’s Hospital, Indianapolis in 1942. She then became the anesthetist and surgical assistant to the doctors in the Braunlin Clinic in Marion, IN. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Arts in 1979 from the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL. For many years, as a registered nurse, she volunteered regularly at the Huntington Red Cross Blood Bank.
In 1984, she and her husband, Paul, founded Starlite Dancers. A revival of the Big Band music was spreading across the country. The local club arranged ballroom dances with live music. She also was a member of the Delta Theta Tau Sorority, Charter member of the LaFontaine Toastmistress International, and Lady of Sir Knight Paul J. Hunckler, a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus.
Blanche chaired school, church, community and Right to Life projects. She considered fundraising to be fun, and with the help of many excellent committee members throughout the years, had consistent success at it.
Married April 5, 1945, she and Paul lived in Ogden, Salt Lake City and Chicago, coming to Huntington in 1950. They took an active role in the Christian Family Movement, enjoyed everything about family life, and reverence the awesome privilege of their share in God’s creation. They cherished each new child, grandchild, and great-grandchildren, and were always interested in their pursuits.
They both loved to travel, especially in the family motor coach, which took them from border to border and coast to coast, and of course, to many football games. And although their Dad was the first driver each morning, each son in line waited for his turn at the wheel. Trips took them to Disney Land, Walt Disney World, and to state and national parks.
Early on, goals were set to make family pilgrimages to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, to the Basilica of Ste. Anne de Boupre near Quebec, and on a tour of the Notre Dame Cathedral and St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal. In 1976, at the 41st International Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia, eight members of the family represented Indiana in the procession of states and nations. In the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Catholic Church in the Americas, the family was privileged to carry the Eucharistic gifts to the altar during the Offertory of the Mass.
When Mother Teresa came to Fort Wayne, the family was there. Some of the family traveled to be with Pope John Paul II in Denver, St. Louis, and Chicago. And a daughters’ whole family was present at this death vigil in Rome. During the declared Holy Year, 1975, the family toured Europe, attended a public audience with Pope Paul VI toured the four great Basilicas in Rome, and prayed and sang in the candlelight processions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in southern France.
In 1980, some of the family went to Oberammergau to attend The Passion Play, presented every ten years in that German town. This was followed by a tour of Greece where the family witnessed the final dress rehearsal, at Olympia, of the Torch Lighting for the 1980 Summer Olympics. At the amphitheater in Epidaurus, built 2,500 years ago and famous for its incredible acoustics, they stood where ancient Greeks had spoken. They also stood where St. Paul spoke in Corinth, and saw and touched the first written music, carved on a large stone.
A Christmas Cruise in 1998 took some of the younger families to the four big islands of Hawaii, with a stop at Christmas Island on December 25th. In their retirement years, Blanche Marie and Paul attended Elderhostel’s and took pleasure cruises, including two trips to Curacao, in the Dutch West Indies, where Paul had served for two and a half years during World War II.
Blanche has lived at Heritage Pointe in Warren, IN, for the last four years. The Hunckler family is grateful for the compassionate care that she received from all the staff there.
There will be a viewing open to the local community, at SS. Peter & Paul Catholic Church, 860 Cherry Street, Huntington, IN, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Covid protocol requires masks and social distancing.
There will be a private, family Mass of Christian Burial at a later time, celebrated by Fr. Tony Steinacker.
A private burial will be at Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Huntington, IN.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Huntington County Right to Life in care of McElhaney-Hart Funeral Home, 715 N. Jefferson St., Huntington, IN 46750.
McElhaney-Hart Funeral Home, 715 N. Jefferson St., Huntington, IN is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences: www.mcelhaneyhartfuneralhome.com
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Blanche Marie (Sturm) Hunckler, please visit our floral store.
Right to Life of Huntington County
c/o McElhaney-Hart Funeral Home, 715 N. Jefferson Street, Huntington IN 46750