Donald Benson Blanding (1894-1957) was born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. He trained between 1913 and 1915 at the Art Institute of Chicago. He enlisted (for a year, or the duration of World War I plus up to six months) in the Canadian Army's 97th ("American Legion") Battalion. Blanding became fascinated by Hawaii and moved there in 1915, staying until his enlistment in the U.S. Army in December, 1917. Blanding pursued further art studies in 1920, in Paris and London, traveled in Central America and the Yucatan, and returned to Honolulu in 1921. Finding work as an artist in an advertising agency, he happened into two years of writing poems published daily in the Honolulu Star Bulletin for an advertiser. These featured local people and events, and became well-known. The popularity of these ad-poems led Blanding to follow the advice of newspaper colleagues by publishing a collection of his poetry in 1923. In 1927, he suggested and founded the annual holiday, Lei Day, in Hawaii.