In Memory

Joe Blake Imel

Joe Blake Imel

His widow, Joy, and their son, Peter, live in the Kansas City area at this time, but are planning to relocate some time this year. Peter was born 10 days before his dad passed away. And in June of 2001 Joy adopted a daughter, Zhanna, who is from Kazakhstan. Peter is now 12 & Zhanna is 13.

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02/19/10 03:49 PM #1    

Joe Doan

I remember Blake as one who was always up to some sort of mischief in a good natured way. He was gregarious and well liked, generally always with a gleam in his eye like the cat that ate the canary. I don't remember him being a particularly serious student in high school, and you could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard that he earned his PhD. I guess it shows that Blake was not particularly challenged in high school, and so he did his best to make his environment and circumstances at that time the most interesting that they could be for him. Obviously he responded to a more challenging environment and accomplished much. He was one of the good guys, and I was sorry to learn of his passing.

04/09/10 09:24 AM #2    

Phil Heth

Blake was certainly one of the most likeable guys one would ever meet. He would do anything to help you out. In 1962 he drove an old pick-up truck. Around graduation time I remember him picking up some firewood to burn at the graduation bonfire that I hosted at my house. As he backed out of a driveway he was hit by a passing motorist, sustaining damage to both vehicles.

I vividly remember him sarcastically lamenting in his distinct Hoosier drawl, "I'd just like to know who it was that said, 'Come on back, Blake, it's all clear!' "

09/23/10 12:51 AM #3    

Jon F. Steiner

Blake Imel was a great friend. He was a slow walking and slow talking dude. There wasn't anything that got him rattled. You could count on Blake day in and day out to be of the same temperament. He had the greatest dry humor of anyone. How he would phrase things would “crack you up”.

In high school he was a slacker. He was a “C” student. Teachers wrote him off as one who was pleasant but not really college material. He didn't have much interest in what was being presented. His father was the county agent and owned a farm. Blake's goal was to become a farmer after high school. He spent his summers working on his dad's and uncle's farm.

Before Blake was able to graduate from high school, both of his parents had passed away. His dream of farming had vanished. He had to make a major change in his future plans.

He did well on his SAT test to be admitted to Purdue. He majored in agriculture/economics. At the end of his freshman year, he had a 2.0 average. Every year after that he was on the dean's list for exceptional scholarship. When I asked him what was it that inspired him to do so well in college, his response was, “I wanted to prove to the people and the teachers of Frankfort that I wasn't as dumb as they thought I was.” And that he did.

Blake went on to the University of Wisconsin on a scholarship and received his master's degree. From there he headed to Berkeley University in California and picked up his PhD. His career began and ended with the federal government in Washington, D.C.

The times that I visited Blake at his office in D.C., it was just like being back in high school. The only thing different was that he was in a suit instead of his flannel shirt and rolled up jeans with his cigarettes in his cuffs. He was the same slow walking, talking buddy that I had always known. As a tribute to Blake's character, the federal government shut down his entire department so that everyone could attend his funeral. That's how much they loved the old farm boy from Frankfort.

As just one additional note, Blake and I started a business together when we were 16 years old. I had a '34 Ford pickup truck, and he bought a '47 International pickup from Castle's junk yard. Together we started hauling trash for people in town and hauling it to the town dump. We had business cards made out with our names, telephone numbers, and what we did. When I last saw Blake, he gave me a few of the cards that he had had for all these years. Whenever I view these cards, I think of the great friend that I have lost.


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