Carol K. Bleser, of Bellport, NY, died on August 20, 2013.
The daughter of Charles and Florence Kaufold, she was born in New York City on December 30, 1933, where she grew up. A 1960 graduate of Converse College, she later received the college’s Career Achievement Award as well as an honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities.
In 1966 she earned a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University. She received National Endowment for the Humanities and Woodrow Wilson fellowships.
A professor of American history at Colgate University from 1970-85, Dr. Bleser taught southern history and specialized in the Civil War and Reconstruction. She was the university’s first full-time woman faculty member and first female full professor.
From 1985 until her retirement in 2000, she was the Kathryn and Calhoun Lemon Distinguished Professor of United States History at Clemson University, making her the university’s first female titled professor.
Dr. Bleser was a trailblazer for professional women and mentored many women in pursuit of their educations and careers.
Dr. Bleser served on the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, a unit of the National Archives, and in 1995 was given the commission’s Award for Distinguished Service.
She also served as president of the Southern Historical Association as well as the Southern Association of Women Historians.
Her published works include “The Hammonds of Redcliffe,” “Tokens of Affection,” “Secret and Sacred,” “In Joy and In Sorrow,” and numerous articles.
Her works focused on Southern women, families and social history.
In retirement, Dr. Bleser applied her expertise in history and historic preservation to benefit organizations in her community.
She served on the Bellport Historical District Preservation Commission in the village of Bellport, her home for over 30 years. She was also president of the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society.
She was predeceased by her beloved husband of 45 years, Dr. Edward J. Bleser.
She is survived by her son, Gerald Rothrock; daughter-in-law, Elizabeth; and her cherished granddaughter, Caroline.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society, P.O. Box 47, Bellport, NY 11713.