Sunday, December 6, 2015

Col. John Hazen Blakelock (1922-2015)

A week ago yesterday we laid my father to rest in the Glen Forest Cemetery in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  It was a nice ceremony.  The weather was chilly and rainy, which seemed fitting.  The only family member missing was my oldest sister, unable to travel on such short notice.  My father died on Tuesday, November 24.  I was at work when my Mom called, she couldn't really speak, but no words are really needed at those moments.   We sang Amazing Grace, and my sister Liz played "The Gary Owen Jig" on her piccolo and there was an Honor Guard (he was in the Air Force), and the Air Attache from the Pakistani Embassy and a Lt. Col. stationed at Wright Patterson.  Both were graduates of the Pakistani Air Force College of Aeronautical Engineering, which my father established during our time in Pakistan.  It was founded in 1965 and he was the first Dean.  We were there long enough to see the first class graduate.  They just celebrated their 50th anniversary and I'm proud to say that they maintained the standards that my father established.  It is one of the finest schools in the area.  The Chief Air Marshall of the Pakistani Air Force sent a beautiful wreath, and later called my Mom to make sure that everything had gone as he had directed.
This is me and my Dad in the surf at Hawk's Bay in Karachi, where we had a beach house.  We went there a lot on the weekends, and I loved falling asleep listening to the sound of the surf.  We would watch the sea turtles come in and make their nests and lay their eggs, and when their eggs hatched we would help the baby turtles make it to the sea.

As I grew older my Dad and I remained close - I was always a "Daddy's Girl".  He helped me with my homework and we went to movies together.  When we went to see "Raiders of the Lost Ark" he dropped popcorn down his shirt during the spider scene and almost threw the entire bucket into the air.

The other thing that we did was build bookshelves.  I was always a reader, especially in high school and college, devouring science fiction books.  We started out making regular bookshelves.
These hold science fiction books in the bedroom.  But at some point Mom recommended that we make book boxes, which we did, cannibalizing a number of shelves in the process.  This wall display is all book boxes made from cannibalized book shelves, again holding science fiction, and on the bottom shelves mysteries.  The boxes are backed, and have lids, so when I moved I would simply pack the books into the book boxes.
My non-fiction library needed bigger book boxes.  We made them in two sizes - 12" x 12" and 12" x 18" and I stacked them like bricks in book towers two boxes wide.  When my husband and I combined our libraries I set them up in an expanded configuration, to obtain as much shelf space as possible.
And yes, my books have labels on their spines just like the library, and just like the library are shelved according to the Library of Congress card catalog.

My Dad was a good man, who lived a good life and led by example.  He taught me to be a good engineer and that if you're going to do something, you should do it right.  He was a simple man with a gentle soul.  After he retired he would feed the critters in our back yard and all the animals learned his routine and would be waiting for him, unafraid.  When a leopard frog moved into my Mom's greenhouse and ate its way through all of the bugs they got a cricket house and raised crickets for it.  It would take cricket's from his fingers, resting a front foot on his hand as it ate.
When I got my MS degree he came to the graduation breakfast and we got this picture, the last picture of the two of us together.  He taught me that character and reputation are really all that you have, and how to live my life with honesty and integrity.  I know that I will always miss him, but I feel so blessed that he was my father.


  1. Your dad sounds like a lovely man and a wonderful mentor. May his memory always be a blessing for you.

    1. Thank you Ruth - he was, and I'm sure that it will.

  2. Carolyn--I just read this today. I'm so sorry for your loss. I am sure your Dad had a large part in who you are today. My thoughts are with you and your family.