California State University, Long Beach

Remembering Joan Lind Van Blom (1952-2015)

Saturday, 29. August 2015


Friday, August 28, 2015
UPDATED: September 7, 2015 11:47PM PDT

By: Brandin Grams (’10, B.S., business)
Director of Outreach, Beach Crew Alumni Association
CSU Long Beach 49er Foundation

Photo Credits: Hope Wilkinson, Karen Keehn (1973, B.A., psychology), Jean Strauss, Andi Parsons, Carol Beard, Maddison Kerst



Lind_2Long Beach State has lost a legend in the 49er Hall of Fame, only to be remembered by her endless prowess for success and as an ambassador to the sport of rowing. Forget just being a role model, to many, she was a hero. She was a fierce competitor, but also passionate of promoting Physical Education throughout her career.

Joan (Lind) Van Blom (1974, B.A., physical education; 1976, credential)  passed away in the morning hours on Friday, August 28, 2015, after a near two-year battle with complications of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most aggressive form of brain cancer. She was 62. Prior to this time, Joan’s story was that of a storybook, whose athletic achievement became a legend. But on August 21, 2013, at the Pete Archer Rowing Center, she collapsed after an indoor rowing session, depicting the fate of what’s to come.

Joan was the first woman to win an Olympic medal for the United States in rowing, taking silver in the single sculls at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, and another in the quadruple sculls at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Joan was also a member of the 1980 Olympic team, which boycotted the Moscow Games. She not only medaled as a rower, but also medaled internationally as a coach in the Pan American Games, and currently holds 11 world records on the indoor ergometer.

11951883_10153557286702298_4070469725516771882_nJoan had a 35-year career with the Long Beach Unified School District as a physical education teacher and was instrumental in winning a million-dollar grant to put rowing machines in each of her school district’s nine high schools. Joan retired in 2012.

Through the years, Joan was inducted into the 49er Hall of Fame and was declared a Lifetime Member of the Long Beach Rowing Association, marking her never-ending achievement in advocacy for the sport and healthy living. She was inducted into the National Rowing Hall of Fame in 1985. Joan is part of the Long Beach Century Club‘s best moments in the City of Long Beach, instated February, 2006.

For all of her accomplishments, dedication to rowing and contributions to the sport’s growth, Van Blom was named the recipient of the 2014 USRowing Ernestine Bayer Award, formerly Woman of the Year, which recognizes outstanding contributions to women’s rowing and/or to an outstanding woman in rowing.

The award is named in honor of the late Ernestine Bayer, a pioneer in women’s rowing, who is seen as the matriarch of the sport in the United States. Joan was honored on Saturday, December 6, at the 2014 USRowing Annual Awards Reception presented by Nathan Benderson Park in Jacksonville, FL


Joan is survived by her husband John Van Blom (1972, B.A., art) and their son, John Jr. John is a four-time Olympian and was also inducted into the 49er Hall of Fame. Joan has two sisters, Loretta Madsen and Carol Hansen. Both entries can be seen at the 49er Hall of Fame, located at the Walter Pyramid, Ukleja Room, on the CSULB campus.


Recent Activities

On February 21, 2014, the Beach Crew Alumni Association hosted John and Joan Van Blom for an interview at the 49er Hall of Fame, conducted by Dave Straley (’72). The interview can be seen on the Beach Crew Alumni Association’s YouTube page. It is also available for viewing by appointment at the University Archives, Room 300, third floor of the CSULB Library.


Racing Shell Dedication

After a successful annual membership drive Fall 2014, the Beach Crew Alumni Association announced the dedication of two racing shells introduced in the Spring 2015 racing season. A Women’s Resolute 8+ shell was dedicated as the Joan Lind Van Blom. The Men’s golden Vespoli 8+ shell was dedicated to a influential and respected alum, John D. Boyle. The dedication ceremony was Saturday March 7, 2015, after racing commenced at the Southern California Opening Day Regatta. CSULB President, Dr. Jane Close Conoley was in attendance and made a special presentation. The ceremony was broadcasted by The Rowing Channel (TRC) and can be viewed at their website.




Jean Strauss, a former Long Beach-native, has been involved during this time with Joan’s biography, titled, “The Olympian,” scheduled to be released in Spring 2016, 40 years after her first Olympic race. She invites everyone to see a preview of what’s in the works:

Joan Lind – America’s Sculler from Jean A. S. Strauss on Vimeo. At the 2015 San Diego Crew Classic, Olympians and National Team Members talk about Joan Lind Van Blom and the impact she had on the early years of women’s international rowing – and the impact she continues to have to this day.

JOAN – on rowing from Jean A. S. Strauss on Vimeo. Joan Lind Van Blom is a two time Olympic silver medalist. The first woman to ever win a rowing medal for the US at the Olympics (Montreal, 1976), she represents a generation of women who, once given the opportunity to compete, raised the level of athleticism and grace in a sport that for over a millennia was the domain of men only. This short film contains footage from a documentary currently in production.


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Plans for a memorial are set for Saturday, October 10, 4:00PM to sunset at the Pete Archer Rowing Center. Please RSVP to This article will be updated below of such plans. Our community subscribed to the B-Newsline will be notified of these events.





Photo Credits

Larger Photos: Hope Wilkinson
Earlier/B&W Photos: Karen Keehn (1973, B.A., psychology)
Where Credited: Andi Parsons, Maddison Kerst, Carol Beard

Pizza Rev

Wednesday, 15. April 2015


2014 Beach Crew Alumni Mixer at Walter Pyramid

Sunday, 9. February 2014


The annual Beach Crew Alumni gathering is back in 2014. This year, we invite our athletes from years past for a night with our current rowers at The Pointe Conference and Events Center inside the iconic Walter Pyramid on Friday, March 7, 6:00pm-9:00pm.

This event is sponsored by the Sports Management Graduate Programs at CSULB.

Come hear from your president, Ken Glenn (’71), about our latest efforts, a special presentation by CSULB Associate Athletic Director, Dedan Brozino, and our coaching staff about our anticipation for the spring racing season.

If you have any questions about this event, please contact Steve Buchan (’73)

Please use the event form below through EventBrite to claim your ticket.