Betty Jean and Gilbert Victor Blomquist Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Civil Engineering
Vic and Betty Jean were fourth-generation Austinites. Vic was 6 years old when his father died, and because there was no Social Security for widows and families at that time, he began working at a young age in newspaper routes, magazine sales, and car repair when not attending school.
Betty and Vic
Vic and Betty Jean both graduated from Austin High School and attended The University of Texas at Austin. Vic was attending classes in the College of Business Administration in 1951, when Selective Service started drafting college students during the Korean War. Vic joined the U.S. Air Force in February of 1951. Vic and Betty Jean were married in 1952, and spent three years at Chanute Air Force Base in Illinois, where Vic was a technical instructor in aircraft and engine mechanics.
In 1955, when Vic and Betty Jean returned to their hometown of Austin, Betty Jean had her civil service status transferred and began a position as secretary to the Intelligence Officer of the Eighth U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters. Vic re-enrolled in The University of Texas at Austin. Switching his major from the College of Business, Vic became a fourth-semester freshman in the College of Engineering. Vic worked as a rod man on the survey crew while Interstate 35 was being built through Austin during his summer breaks and later between classes. Vic received his BS in civil engineering in January 1962.
Vic retired from the Texas State Department of Highways and Public Transportation in 1983, as supervising senior project data engineer and automation administrator of the Highway Design Division. In this capacity he established the first computer graphics design system for the Highway Design Division as well as the Design Construction Information System, which provided interactive design communications within the statewide network. Always appreciative of new technology, Vic had two aortic heart valve replacements before his death in 2008, at age 75.
Both of Betty Jean and Vic’s children, Preston Howard Blomquist, M.D., and Vicki Jean Blomquist Shapiro, graduated from The University of Texas at Austin, are lifetime members of the Texas Exes, and are active members of The University of Texas Longhorn Alumni Band. Both were beneficiaries of Endowed Presidential Scholarships during their time at the University.
Dr. Blomquist graduated with a bachelor of engineering science degree with highest honors in 1982. A professor of ophthalmology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, he holds the Dr. W. Maxwell Thomas Chair in Ophthalmology.
Ms. Shapiro graduated with a bachelor of business administration degree in the Business Honors Program, also with highest honors, in 1985. She now manages a team in cybersecurity at United Services Automobile Association in San Antonio, Texas.
Betty Jean has served as a volunteer with The University of Texas Performing Arts Center since 2009.