Larry I. Bland (1940-2007)
Brian D. Shaw, March 2008
Larry I. Bland, editor of The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, historian, author, and teacher, died November 27, 2007, in Lexington, Virginia. He was 67 years old.
Generally recognized as one of the world's foremost authorities on the life and career of George Catlett Marshall, Bland was working on the sixth volume of the Marshall Papers when he died. The Marshall Papers is the principal publications project of the George C. Marshall Foundation in Lexington.
In addition to the Marshall Papers, Bland also edited George C. Marshall Interviews and Reminiscences and George C. Marshall's Mediation Mission to China. He was the author of numerous articles and monographs on Marshall and Marshall-related topics, such as the Cold War, the Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine, and Averell Harriman.
Bland was an engaging and sought-after lecturer. In October 2007, he was the keynote speaker at the dedication of the new George C. Marshall Conference Center at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Bland's remarks "insightful and relevant." Earlier in 2007 Bland gave a series of lectures on the Marshall Plan in Turkey at the invitation of the state department. He frequently spoke at professional meetings—both in this country and abroad—historical societies, government conferences, and civic groups.
In addition to his work at the Marshall Foundation, Bland served as managing editor of the Journal of Military History for 19 years.
Bland was also active in local history affairs, serving as a trustee of the Rockbridge Historical Society and as the editor of the Proceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society and News Notes. He also prepared the maps and edited Winifred Hadsel's two books, The Roads of Rockbridge and Streets of Lexington.
The recipient of many regional and national awards, Bland most recently received the Victor Gondos Memorial Service Award for long, distinguished, and outstanding service to the Society for Military History.
An avid theater buff, Bland was a volunteer technician, set builder, and gofer for his wife, Joellen, who has served for 25 years as director of the theater at the Virginia Military Institute. Like George Marshall, Bland was also a committed and gifted gardener. He was especially known for his deft touch with dahlias, mint, and other difficult plants and flowers.
A native of Indianapolis, Bland received his BS in physics from Purdue University and his MA and PhD in diplomatic history from the University of Wisconsin. After teaching at colleges in North Carolina, Bland accepted a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was recommended for the Marshall Foundation position in 1977 by Edward M. Coffman, a distinguished historian from the University of Wisconsin.
Bland is survived by his wife of 45 years, Joellen; two sons, Neil and Ryan; his mother, Emma C. Bland; and two sisters, Juanita Bower and Janice Bland.
—Brian D. Shaw
George C. Marshall Foundation