Francis Adolf Blaschke, age 95, passed away peacefully early on Friday, May 28, 2021.
Born in Sparta, WI on March 16, 1926, Fran was the son of the late Vincent and Myrtle Blaschke. He graduated from St. Mary’s Catholic School in 1940 and Tomah High School in 1944. Fran also attended the New York Institute of Photography –Correspondence Course. Fran had a unique experience of WWII. Right out of high school, in 1944, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He wanted to fly. He was trained as a ball-turret gunner (belly gunner) on a B-24. His crew of ten flew their brand new ship to Kawai, Hawaii. After a stay of some months on the island, and late in the war, the crew was broken up and sent on troop ships to various, tropical ports of call including Manila, and Okinawa. The war ended during these travels and Fran became part of the U.S. Army of Occupation of Japan. He was stationed at Tachikwawa Airbase. His official duties as Supply Clerk included driving his weapons carrier to and from Tokyo. His unofficial duties as self-appointed Tomah ambassador, included making ice cream for the Japanese civilians who worked at the airbase. He also participated in their ad hoc baseball team! Based on the smiling photographs of them that he brought home, they seem to have enjoyed his company. He always spoke affectionately of the friends he made there. Although he was never involved in any battles or campaigns, he received citations for his participation including: Victory Medal, Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon, 2 Overseas Bars, Army of Occupation Medal (Japan), Good Conduct Medal.
After the war, Fran took flying lessons in Tomah and enjoyed piloting Piper Cubs and Aeronca Chiefs. In his later years he enjoyed using his flight simulator to virtually fly a plane around the country over tall buildings and even under bridges!
Fran was a jack of many trades. He had stints working for a Tomah Cement Plant, the Milwaukee R.R., and even had his own Fran Blaschke Photo Studio in Tomah. When the family moved to Delaware he delivered bread for Freihofer, and worked at Wilmington Dry Goods and ran American School Photographers with his partner and brother in law, Franny Okie. But his all time favorite job was for International Sound, Inc./Delaware Park Race Track, as the color camera operator. After starting out on the “film patrol” in the late ‘50’s in various trackside towers, he got the cushy position above the grandstands. Over the years he developed what he called a “dance” while filming a race which involved intricate steps to keep the camera steady while panning. He retired, somewhat reluctantly from the position in 2013.
Fran was a great dancer and loved partnering with his wife, Dorothy, and anyone else at special occasions. He also appreciated all kinds of music. He sang lead in the “Quarternotes”, a barbershop quartet formed with good friends in Tomah. They came in tenth out of 200 entries in a competition in Chicago! He was also an excellent pianist with a large and varied, memorized repertoire of popular music. The family was treated to “Stardust”, “Deep Purple” and others throughout the years. He also composed his own pieces, one of which he titled, “Dorothy’s Waltz”. He enjoyed entertaining his friends and relatives who enthusiastically sang along or danced to his music. Fran had a playful, gentle, sense of humor that was tailored to each new situation. He was an improviser. While stationed on Kawai during WWII, he sent his mother an un-husked coconut, by writing her address and affixing postage to the smooth outer shell! It arrived in Tomah intact! (we still have it). He was an affectionate and loving father and husband.
Fran had a low-key and positive view of the world. His gentle, friendly nature made him many friends wherever he went. A life-long faithful member of St. Elizabeth’s Church, he worked tirelessly selling 1-10 tickets throughout the parish and beyond. He was diligent as a volunteer in the Neighborhood Watch and proudly displayed the American flag on his front lawn every morning.
Fran loved animals and had dogs throughout his life. He enjoyed the outdoors and nature. He loved to get up extra early, when it was still dark out, to take his children fishing and, especially, crabbing!
Throughout his life, Fran only a few, minor and wistfully regarded disappointments... He was an “acting” supply Sergeant at Tachikawa Airbase, Japan, but never got his stripes. Wished he’d gotten his pilot’s licence. He only had 8 hours left to complete! Wished he could have gone crabbing one more time these last couple of years.
Fran was predeceased by his loving wife, Dorothy A. (Okoniewski) Blaschke; his dear daughter, Bernadette Anne Blaschke; his parents, Vincent and Myrtle Blaschke; and his brother, Vincent J. Blaschke. He is survived by his sons, Mark A. Blaschke of Wilmington, DE and Francis V. Osborn Blaschke of Leominster, MA; and the extended families of the Okoniewskis in the Delmarva area and the Blaschkes in Tomah, WI.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 AM on Tuesday, June 22 at St. Elizabeth Roman Catholic Church, 809 S. Broom St., Wilmington, DE 19805, where family and friends may visit beginning at 10:00 AM. Interment will follow at Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Bear, DE.
The Blaschke family wishes to thank professional, caring staff at both Lodge Lane and the Kutz Home and the good folks of Compassionate Care for their attentive hospice work during Fran’s final weeks. Many heartfelt thanks are also extended to dad’s many friends, neighbors and relatives who offered their love, time and energy in so many amazing and varied ways during these past few years. And finally, to the Bernardine Sisters for remembering dad on their prayer line. We recognize how fortunate we are and will remain eternally grateful.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Elizabeth Roman Catholic Church; St. Mary’s Catholic Church (Queen of the Apostles), 303 W. Monroe St., Tomah, WI 54660; or Kutz Senior Living Campus, 704 River Rd., Wilmington, DE 19809.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Francis A. Blaschke, please visit our floral store.
St. Elizabeth Church
809 S. Broom Street, Wilmington DE 19805
St. Mary’s Catholic Church (Queen of the Apostles)
303 W. Monroe St., Tomah WI 54660
Kutz Senior Living Campus
704 River Rd., Wilmington DE 19809