In Memoriam: Richard Parr Blake
Nov 10, 2016
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Dick Blake (Richard Parr Blake) on November 3 rd, at his home in Guelph, Ontario. Dick died surrounded by his loving family at the age of 97 just days short of the 73rd anniversary of his marriage to his wife, best friend and partner in life Edna Mary Blake (Reid). In addition to Edna he leaves four children: Susanne Tamas (Andy Tamas); Bill (Karen Humphreys Blake); Jennifer (Denny De Petrillo); and Christine Watson (Richard Watson). He will also be sadly missed by grandchildren Peter and Sophie Tamas, Christopher and Caroline Blake, Alessandra De Petrillo, Jennifer Mainwaring, James and Jonathan Watson, six great-grandchildren (and two more on the way). Dick was pre-deceased by his younger brother, Bill, who was killed while serving as a bomber pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1944.
Dick was raised in Hamilton and his early life was one of adversity. After the untimely death of his father, the family struggled and Dick was fostered by the Armstrongs, who became a second family for him, while his mother completed her nursing training.
World War II Interrupted his studies at McMaster University. Wanting to support the war effort he joined the British Navy through a special officer training programme for a select group of 150 Canadians who were loaned to the Royal Navy and who later became known as the Canadian Raleighites. Following his training he served on corvettes, frigates and submarines and met and married Edna. After the war he completedhis his BSc in Mechanical Engineering. at Queen's University, class of 1948 ½. While at Queen's Dick served as Vice President of the Engineering Society and president of the Queen's student government, theAlma Mater Society.
Following the war, Dick began his career as a research scientist with the Defence Research Board (DRB), hoping to help prevent further conflicts. His career took the family to many places including Halifax, England, where he worked on the development of a hydrofoil craft for shore convoy defence at Saunders-Roe on the Isle of Wight, and Quebec City, where he served as Superintendent of the Armament Engineering Wing. He later served in Ottawa and in diplomatic postings in Washington, as Counsellor Defence Science and Chief of the DefenceResearch Staff, and London, where he was Counsellor Defence Science and Scientific Advisor to the High Commissioner.
Dick's life was one of service and duty, which started when he helped support his family as a boy, and continued as he served his country with great distinction at war, and later his community through volunteer work in peacetime. A man of great intelligence and vision, his curiosity was voracious; he loved a good book, or even better, a great conversation. There was nothing he would not try, from carpentry to wood carving to knitting or cooking, and he was never content with a new hobby until he had it mastered.
Dick had many achievements in his long life. But first and foremost he was a loving and engaged family man, who was always interested in and supportive of his children, their chosen partners, (the "outlaws"),grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was a great friend to all, noted for his wisdom and gentleness.
Dick was fortunate to enjoy a long and rewarding retirement. He particularly loved the family's cottage and gathering place, most of which he built himself, on Blake Island, Skootamatta Lake, where he and Edna lived six months a year. He had a deep love of the natural world. He used his many talents in construction projects and hobbies, enjoyed canoeing, windsurfing, sailing and exploring the natural surroundings and developed an amazing skill in bird carving. He and Edna also spent many happy winters in Bonita Springs, Florida, where they enjoyed everything nature had to offer and a rich social life. They returned to Canada full time in 1999 selecting The Village by the Arboretum in Guelph for its relationship to nature and to the university, and more recently moved to the adjacent Village of Arbour Trails.
The family wishes to thank Dr. Trudy Maclean, Travis Amell of the Bayshore Palliative Care team, the team of nurses, and personal service workers and the staff at Arbour Trails for their compassionate care.
A celebration of life will be held at Arbour Trails on Sunday, November 27th at 4:00 p.m. A second gathering to celebrate his life will be held at the Lake next summer (details to follow). Gifts in Dick's honourmay be made to the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada in Guelph, Doctors Without Borders, The Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook or a charity of your choice.
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