Gaines, Blanca Vasquez

Blanca Vasquez Gaines (1918- )

Written by Katie Gandhi

Blanca Vasquez was born in Puerto Rico in 1918. She joined the Women's Army Corps (WACs) during World War II, and subsequently trained at Fort Des Moines, a national army training school just south of Des Moines, Iowa. While stationed at Fort Des Moines, she met Harold Gaines, who had grown up in Buxton, Iowa, a predominately African-American coal mining town.  The town had reached its peak coal production during World War I but died out in the 1920s.

Blanca Vasquez married Harold in 1948 and moved to Albia, Iowa, where their daughter Angela was born in 1953.  Blanca Gaines returned to Puerto Rico with her daughter in 1956. She taught English and American literature at the University of Puerto Rico and was regarded as an excellent teacher. Because Harold Gaines initially feared he would not be able to find work in Puerto Rico, he did not join the family until the 1960s. The three maintained a warm connection to Iowa, returning every summer to visit family in Albia and their Iowa farm.

Gaines, Blanca Vasquez