Remembering Jean Rickard, Founding Executive Director

Jean Louise Jablonsky Rickard  (Age 85)  
Of Vienna, VA, passed away on July 13, 2021, in Bethany Beach, DE. Jean was born at Ft. Monroe, VA, to Major General Harvey Jablonsky and Mrs. Dorothy Jarman Jablonsky. Jean attended school at various Army posts in both the U.S. and abroad and graduated from the National Cathedral School, Washington, DC. She attended Connecticut College for Women a year and graduated from George Washington University with a bachelor of arts in education. During college in 1957, Jean began working for Herbert L. Block (Herblock), the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist at The Washington Post. As his Executive Assistant, she managed his office and was involved in all aspects of his work, including the organization, editing and publication of his political cartoon books. She collaborated with Mr. Block to create the Herb Block Foundation, which helps promote and sustain the causes he championed during his 72 years of cartooning. As a trusted advisor, Jean became the founding Executive Director of the foundation, ensuring Mr. Block's legacy and vision for the organization. She served as Executive Director Emerita/Vice President until her death. Jean was known for her legendary Christmas cookies-for years she baked 20,000 each year to give to family and friends. Jean lived in Vienna, VA, for 60 years. Jean's home was known to be the epicenter for family reunions, annual Christmas and pool parties, and laughter. Jean loved to read and passed that love on to her family and friends' children. She had countless friends, many of whom were part of her life for decades.Jean is survived by her daughter, Lynda Bonieskie (Lonell Merchant); six grandchildren: Anthony Bonieskie, James Bonieskie, Andrew Bonieskie, Catherine Bonieskie, Eric Merchant and Skyler Merchant; a great-grandson, Malakai Ray; her brothers, Lt. Colonel David Jablonsky (Wiebke), and James R. Tulley (Rhonda); sister, Lea Jablonsky Uhre (Curt); five nieces and a nephew. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 29 years, Ed Rickard, her son, Raymond L. Bonieskie, and her sister, Alice Jablonsky. A memorial service will be held Saturday, August 7, 2021 at the American Legion Post 180 in Vienna, VA from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers please donate to one of Jean's favorite charities: Capital Area Food Bank; Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Department or House of Ruth.

To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.


Memorial service

Aug, 7 2021

11:00a.m. - 2:00p.m.

American Legion Post 180

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Published by The Washington Post on Jul. 30, 2021.


It is with great sadness to tell you that Jean passed away on the morning of July 13, 2021. Lynda [Jean's daughter] took Jean on vacation to their beach house where she passed away surrounded by family. She left us the day after her 85th birthday.

"This amazing woman changed my life with her compassion and work. She was much more than an assistant to Mr. Block and was an integral part in designing his dream of the foundation. I have been working for and with Jean for over 20 years and could not be more impressed with this person of strength and perseverance. Loved her too much to say."

— Marcela Brané, President

Please note that a charity or place of donation in memory of Jean has not yet been decided by her family but will be posted as soon as we are advised. Thank you.

"Since the first day I met Jean over 20 years ago, she made me feel part of a large family. For decades she brought young assistants into her fold and supported them as they found their wings. She kept in touch with all of us as evidenced by half of the board. Then she took her place as the head and heart of the Foundation. Her generous spirit, and her incredible grit, will continue to be the heart of the Foundation.

"It’s a great loss but I’m filled more with thankfulness than sorrow. In part because she truly was at her happy place at the beach. Lynda cleared hurdle after hurdle to get her there and it feels like the best send off one could have hoped for her."

— Sarah Alex, Executive Director

The following are comments from board members as they heard the news:


"I was lucky enough to see Jean last week here in Delaware. She was so happy to be back in Bethany, and she had a beautiful view of the ocean. She was exactly where she wanted to be.


"She was, quite simply, a one-of-a-kind human, and she enriched the lives of every person who came into contact with her. To say she will be missed is a massive understatement."

— Laura L. Hutchison

"Ah, what a sad way to begin the day. I’ll always remember Jean for her warm, enthusiastic welcoming of me to the 'Blockette' family from our very first Foundation meeting on.

"She was our institutional memory, a vital link to 'What would Mr. Block have done?' as we tried to be caretakers of his legacy.

"She offered a bright light of hope and optimism in my life, even as she quietly was fighting illness. It is an understatement to say she will be missed but, at least, she was with us long enough for her light to help guide us to brighter days ahead. Love to all."

— CP (Clarence Page)

"The sad news of Jean yesterday has been a hard one for me to process. I have known Jean since I arrived in Washington in 1974. Jean has been a major part of my life for 48 years. Jean has not only been a terrific friend but she and Eddie were family. They watched our children grow and were very much a part of our lives. Jean was one of a kind. I am so fortunate to have known her.. She will be missed not only by my family but by so many others whose lives she has touched. Her kindness and generosity was felt by many. The foundation has lost an important member. Jean made sure that Mr. Blocks wish became reality. I know those two are now together looking down proudly at what this foundation has become.

"I send my love to Lynda and her family at this difficult time and want them to know. My family will always be there for them like Jean was for us. I will miss Jean's spirit, courage but most of all her friendship. Her memory will live on with all that knew her."

— Jill

"Jean was an extraordinary woman. I met her first when we were colleagues at the Post. I got to know her better working with her on the board. She will be sorely missed. Sending my condolences to Linda and her family."

— Athelia

"I am deeply saddened to hear the news about Jean, who was so loving kind and incredibly generous in everything she did with family, friends and colleagues. With an introduction by Susie Crowley, it was Jean who hired me as the second Blockette (after Jane) in 1972 … and because of her and Mr. Block I fell in love with the newsroom, with journalism, became a columnist in Philadelphia and enjoyed a 20-year career at four other newspapers. I owe it all to Jean and will be forever grateful.

"The way Jean ran Mr. Block's office, his life, and anything and everything Mr. Block did at the Post was so impressive. I so admired Jean for her many skills and ability to juggle a million things at once, always with a sense of humor. As we all know, the office was a busy beehive, to say the least.

"There was no one like Jean. No one. But most of all, we enjoyed a friendship that spanned nearly 50 years…which I will treasure forever.

"I am sending much love and my deepest sympathy to Lynda, who I know will miss her terribly as will we."

— Poppy

"So sorry to hear -- what a loss! Jean was a gem, so much loved by so many of us. She was kind, smart, generous, fun-loving and a real rock for her family and our dear Herb. Lynda, deepest sympathy to you and your family and all the grandchildren. Jean's life was indeed a blessing, and you'll carry a piece of her in your heart forever."

— Robin

"Indeed, Jean was a gem -- the real deal! Jean was an extraordinary, beautiful person who touched so many people’s lives. She was and always will be someone I treasure and love.

"My deepest sympathy to Lynda and all of Jean’s family. Jean will live in our hearts forever."

— Donna

"Such sad news, indeed. As a rookie on the committee, it was always a pleasure to sit next to Jean. She made me feel like a veteran instead of a newcomer. I will miss her."

— Paul

"Jean’s legacy is long and deep, and continues on in the hearts of family and friends, and good works of the foundation."

— Matt