Blan Aldridge, resident of Deerfield Episcopal Center in Asheville, NC died September 14, 2021. Born in 1924 in Watauga County, Blan was son of the late H.O. Aldridge and Bird Elizabeth Coffey Aldridge. He is preceded in death by sisters, Bina McClean and Nancy “Ethel” Chamblin, and brothers, Joe, Dane and Herbert Aldridge.
Blan is survived by his wife, Katharine “Kay” Drayton Baker Aldridge, children Leslie (Lee Smith) of Maryland, Robert (Paula) of Montclair, NJ, Chris (Sandra) of Foscoe, NC, four grandchildren, Darcy, Scott, Drayton and Micaela, and one great-grandchild, Romola.
Blan served in the US Army Air Force from 1942 to 1945 in England. He graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 1949 and married Katharine Drayton Baker in 1951.
Blan graduated Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, VA in 1955. Following Seminary, he served as Assistant Chaplain at WNC Sanitorium in Black Mountain, NC in 1955. He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church USA in 1959 and went on to graduate Princeton Theological Seminary in 1964. He was the chaplain at Eastern State Psychiatric Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, PA from 1963 to 1975 and served churches in Rocky Mount, NC in 1950 to 1951, Washington, D.C. from 1957 to 1962, and Princeton, NJ from 1975 until 1981.
Blan pursued counseling and psychiatric training and Clinical Pastoral Education at a number of hospitals and centers in the northeast. He and Kay opened Aldridge Counseling Center in Burnsville, NC where they worked together counseling families, individuals and couples from 1981 until retiring in 1996.
Blan served as a counselor and avid advocate for troubled individuals over the years. He was involved in a number of health care and human service organizations including Street Ministry, Planned Parenthood, United Way, NC Association of Handicapped People, Mental Health Associations, Hospice and the Community Foundation of WNC.
Blan was a lifelong humanitarian. One of the individuals he served once said, “Reverend Aldridge is an advocate of Jesus Christ to all kinds of troubled people.” He recognized that his life and ministry would be better served helping less fortunate and distressed people rather than in the pulpit as a preacher. His emphasis and commitment during his entire ministry was, therefore, not in preaching, but rather working with troubled and disabled people. Blan found most fulfillment in listening to and helping others. He felt that one of his most important roles in his life was serving as a consistent mentor and friend to a developmentally disabled man for almost four decades.
Blan was an active and instrumental presence in the civil rights movement in Princeton, NJ in the 1960s and 70s. He was a pioneer in the gay rights movement as it gained momentum and was passionate in helping minorities.
After retiring from counseling in Burnsville, NC, Blan and Kay moved to Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Center in Asheville in 2001 where they continued to volunteer in the health care unit as friends and active musicians, starting the St. Giles Singers musical group in 2001, which sang and performed together for ten years.
Blan has requested no memorial gifts or flowers be given in his name. The family will announce plans for a memorial service at a later time when it is safer to gather.