Blanche Evans Dean made a significant and lasting impression on the
State of Alabama through the book she published, her life as a master teacher,
and her work with state and national organizations.
Mrs. Dean, a native of Clay County, earned degrees from Valparaiso
University in Indiana and the University of Alabama. For almost thirty years,
she taught biology in Alabama's public schools; most of that time was spent at
Woodlawn High School in Birmingham. One of her former pupils described her
class as "an exciting voyage of discovery, constantly primed for the next
serendipitous miracle." Birds, bees, trees, flowers, and fern became old
friends to her students, who learned with joy to became concerned about the
natural treasures of Alabama.
In order to share her love of nature and her
teaching methods, Blanche Dean organized the Alabama State Nature Camp for the
instruction of teachers and students in natural history and conservation. She
directed this camp for thirteen years.
Numerous organizations were originated by or acquired strength through
Mrs. Dean's leadership. She was a founder of the Alabama Ornithological
Society, the Alabama Wildlife Society, and the Alabama Conservancy. She served
the Birmingham Audubon Society as president and was active in the Alabama
Academy of Science, The National Association of Biology Teachers, the American
Fern Society, and Delta Kappa Gamma.
Mrs. Dean's professional and civic contributions brought her great honor.
The Alabama Library Association awarded to her, posthumously, the annual author
award in 1975. She earned the non-fiction award for her five books:
Wildflowers of Alabama and Adjoining States (with Ann Mason and Joab L.
Thomas), Ferns of Alabama, Trees and Shrubs in the Heart of
Dixie, Happy Trails, and Let's Learn the Birds in Alabama
(reprinted in a revised and expanded edition as Birds). She was also
honored with a special citation from the National Audubon Society for
distinguished service in the field of conservation education. The Alabama
Wildflower Society further honored her by naming the Birmingham chapter for her
and by creating the Blanche E. Dean Scholarship.
Blanche Evans Dean was a rare human being who loved nature and people and
who saw God in both. She lived an unselfish, productive life and left a legacy
of memories of her intense appreciation of the world around her.