Husky Hall Of Famer Harvy Blanks Passes Away
Harvy Blanks, a former Washington football player who went on to a long and successful career in the theater, has passed away at the age of 73.
Last fall, Blanks was inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame along with three teammates and a coach. During the 1969 football season, four Black members of the Washington football team – Blanks, Gregg Alex, Ralph Bayard, and Lamar Mills – were suspended after refusing to pledge personal loyalty to head football coach Jim Owens.
In the face of racial tension and adversity, the young men stood by their actions, believed in themselves, and stayed committed to an intense personal sacrifice for the greater good.
Later that week, before departing for a road game at UCLA, remaining Black members of the team travel party got off the buses carrying the team to the airport as a show of solidarity.
Assistant coach Carver Gayton, a former UW letterman and first Black coach in program history, resigned to show solidarity with the players.
Under pressure from the public and campus groups, three of the four players – all but Blanks – were reinstated to the team just before the final game of the 1969 season.
Blanks nonetheless flourished, eventually earning a master's degree from Cornell and becoming an actor, director and playwright. He performed in and produced plays on Broadway, off-Broadway and, notably, for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) Theater Company, for which he appeared in 37 plays over 25 years.
"We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Harvy's passing," said UW director of athletics Jennifer Cohen. "Harvy made an impact wherever he went, from the courage he showed back in 1969, to his long, successful theater career. He touched many lives in many ways and his loss will be deeply felt. I'm very grateful we had the opportunity to honor him during this year's Hall of Fame celebration. My condolences to his family, friends and former teammates."
Born March 12, 1948, in Chicago, Blanks passed away at his home in Denver last Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022.
For much more on Blanks' life in the theater, read this remembrance in the Denver Gazette. Additionally, here is a feature story from 2017.