Nature 40


Thomas Nelson Blandford

November 4, 1928 ~ April 7, 2018 (age 89)

Thomas Nelson Blandford died Saturday, April 7th, 2018 at the age of 89 after a brief illness. Tom loved to get to know strangers, as he was convinced everyone had a story to tell. He made enough friends at Creston High School to be voted class President one year and forever be on the Reunion Committee. Tom was an Eagle Scout and the first male Girl Scout in our Council and retained his Scouting values his whole life. He graduated from Michigan State University and would root for it every year in the game against Michigan. After college he married Sue Beebe, and they moved into a little trailer on an Oklahoma Army base while he was serving in the military.

Tom joined his father’s real estate business, but changed its focus to an appraisal firm to spend more time as a husband and dad. He and Sue grew Blandford Appraisal Company into a large company specializing in commercial and industrial valuations. He loved math and the built environment, and he was committed to Grand Rapids and West Michigan, enjoying watching it change, grow, and prosper. He appraised most of the buildings downtown, and properties throughout the region. Some notable appraisal projects included Sleeping Bear Dunes and Pictured Rocks National Seashores.

Whether it was volunteering to be President (again) of the North Kiwanis Club, serving on the Board of BOMA, the Building Owners and Managers Association, chairing the Property Committee for Camp Anna Behrens, making eggs for breakfasts at Second Congregational Church, ushering for Fountain Street Church, or volunteering at Meijer Gardens, Tom could always be depended on to lend a helping hand. He had a heart for service.

Tom loved his “girls”: Sue Blandford, his wife of 56 years until her death; his daughters Bonnie Blandford of Grand Rapids, and Karen Blandford of Maryland; and his beloved partner of 9 years, Karen Mahan of Ada. He also loved the others he left behind; his older sister, Jeanne Swart, of Grand Rapids, his sons-in-law Dick Kunst of Grand Rapids and Jonathan Herz of Maryland, and his grandson, Thomas Herz of Maryland.

He especially liked working in his wood shops in his Grand Rapids home and at his cabin on the Muskegon River in Newaygo. He had a big heart, big hands, and a boundless enthusiasm for life.

He liked camping, hiking, and being outdoors. His birding life list was very impressive from his world travels and many trips to local refuges with Sue and Karen. His favorite thing was to do “chores” and would keep lists upon lists to be organized and efficient. He had hundreds of clever uses for binder clips long before anyone heard of life hacks. He loved his dogs, Patsy, Sam, Brit, and Felix. He was a pro-choice, pro-environment conservative, who listened to talk radio to the chagrin of the rest of the family. 

He was fond of finding a deal, particularly on peanut butter, which he would donate in quantity to a local food pantry. He supported the work of many local charitable endeavors and would be humbled if friends gave in his memory to one of his favorites:  In the Image, 1823 S. Division, Grand Rapids, 49507; Blandford Nature Center, 1715 Hillburn Ave NW, Grand Rapids, 49504; or Michigan Audubon, 2310 Science Parkway #200, Okemos, 48864.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 2 pm on Thursday, May 10, 2018. Please email for details and directions.  


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