Virginia Blankenbaker was born Virginia Murphy in Indianapolis on 29 March 1933. She was raised in the Indianapolis area and went to Decatur Central High School in Marion County. She attended Purdue University, in Lafayette, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics and Science Education in 1955, and her Masters in Education from Butler University, in Indianapolis, in 1979. She married Richard I. Blankenbaker and they have five children.
She worked as a Home Economics and Math teacher at Brentwood Junior High School in Pensacola, Florida, for the 1955–56 school years, and then became a home economist for Colonial Food Stores until 1959. Blankenbaker returned to teaching when she took a job as a Home Economics teacher at IPS Day High School at Wood High School from 1976 to 1984; and then moved to A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc. where she worked as an Investment Broker. She was also very active in volunteer work, especially in educational and health areas.
Blankenbaker’s political career began in 1980 when she was elected to her first term in the Indiana State Senate. She was re-elected for the 1984 term and served through 1996. While she was in the Senate she served on many committees, and chaired the Health and Human Services Committee and the Child Support Advisory Committee. Blankenbaker also ran for Mayor of Indianapolis in 1991, and the U.S. House of Representatives, District 10, in 1996 but was defeated in both races.
Blankenbaker lives in Wilmette, Illinois, and was recently appointed to the Washington, DC-based Rural School Community Trust Board.