Leonard Wilson Blake Jr. was born on January 23, 1938 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to the late Leonard Wilson Blake Sr., and Anna “Angel” Shields Blake. Leonard and his mother, Anna shared the same birthdate, January 23. When Leonard was five years old with his two sisters Helena Lurene and Ella Atreva and family moved to Wilberforce Ohio where his grandfather, Norwood Shields was a Professor of Agriculture at Wilberforce University and Sunday School Teacher at Trinity AME church. Visiting cousins and extended family have fond memories and great stories of their jokes and pranks during the summers spent in Wilberforce.
Leonard attended Xenia High School where he was the first class of minority students to integrate the high school. After his graduation in 1956, he enlisted in the U.S Army and was stationed overseas in Germany. While in the military, he traveled extensively in Europe and commented that his favorite memory was his trip to Paris, France and seeing the Eiffel Tower.
Leonard served his remaining service obligation in the Army Reserve and National Guard of Ohio and was acknowledged with merit awards for meritorious service conducted in the execution of his assignments.
Wire Communication Chief for his Battalion in the United States Army
Good Conduct Medal (United States Army)
Army Overseas Ribbon
Merit Award (United States Army)
Medical Specialist in 131st Medical Company (Ohio Army National Guard)
Signal Service Company, Ft Dix New Jersey
Medical Specialist Hospital Attendant
We commend Leonard W. Blake Jr. for his meritorious service while in the military and doing his part in helping maintain the security and safety of the citizens of the United States. Thank you for your service!
After he was honorably discharged from the Army, he began his studies at Central State College where he majored in Industrial Technology (Engineering). In 1962, he became a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc in the Delta Xi Chapter. Upon graduation with his Bachelor of Science degree in 1964, he was employed at Ohio Bell in their central office in Dayton, Ohio. On September 18, 1965, Leonard was united in marriage to his college sweetheart, Barbara Hightower Blake. This marriage was blessed by the birth of two children: Pamela Blake and Patricia Blake-Smith.
His technical drawing and mechanical skills and abilities were reflected in his career. He worked as a draftsman designing billing machines and computers for Standard Register in Dayton. He left Dayton and went to Fostoria as a tool designer for Atlas Crankshaft Corporation, which made parts for diesel engines. Returning to Dayton, he was offered a federal job to design bombs, which he adamantly declined.
He moved to Columbus in 1972 and worked 19 ½ years as a Safety Engineer for several insurance companies and the last 7 years before retirement as a Loss Control Specialist. While working at the Insurance Company of North America (INA), he attended month-long work trainings held in Philadelphia each year which he had fond memories of visiting his sisters Gwen and Ella while he was there.
Leonard is a World War II enthusiast. He collected books, maps, CD’s and DVD’s on the subject. He also had a passion for trains that started when he was very young and attended train collector meetings all over Ohio. He has a vast collection of O Gage scale model trains where ¼ of his basement is a train city. His train city was filmed by Channel 10 in Columbus Ohio which was regularly broadcasted for two years as footage for the news.
He shared the love of tennis instilled by his mother, Anna. Leonard loved reading and talking about cars with his son in law, Jonathan and they attended the Detroit Grand Prix together. He had great culinary skills in cooking scrambled eggs which his grandson, Micah is trying to perfect to this day. Leonard and his grandson, Micah shared a special bond that included many laughs, hilarious stories and jokes over the years. Leonard was a big supporter of his wife, Barbara on her career in education. He lovingly joked to her every morning, “Have fun in the schoolhouse” when she left to go to work at the school and when she came back every evening, Who gave you the biggest trouble today, the big kids (adults) or little kids (students)? He taught his daughters to be self- sufficient and independent and affectionately teased them about looking for work for them to do. Pamela learned at an early age how to use tools by watching her father fix things around the house including assembly of bookcases and cabinets. Patricia shared the love of road trips with her father as he taught her how to read and navigate by an atlas road map and gave her many map drawings and travel directions to get to her destinations.
Leonard was a devoted active member of Clair United Methodist Church where he served as a Trustee and member of the Men of Clair. In his later years, he became an artist and loved to paint lighthouses and a special portrait of Clair UMC Church. He enjoyed political conversations with his best friend and Alpha fraternity brother, Dr. William Goldwair. He possessed a giving heart and quietly gave quality time, love, encouraging words and monetary donations to his many family members, friends, and charitable organizations.
Surrounded by his loved ones, his courageous battle with heart disease ended on Tuesday, December 1, 2020 where he leaves a legacy of love, laughter, and wisdom to all that knew him. His love will be sorely missed by his wife, “daddy’s girls”, sons in law, grandson and all of his relatives and friends.
Cherishing his memory is his loving wife of 55 years, Barbara H. Blake, his loving children; Pamela Blake (Fred Cox II) and Patricia Blake-Smith (Jonathan B. Smith), grandson Micah Blake-Smith, sister Gwendolyn Blake Hollinger (Marcel Hollinger) and nieces Marion LaVerne Williams and Atreva Vaughan (Clyde Vaughan Jr.) and a host of cousins, great nieces, great nephews, family and friends.
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