With a life that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want, Stephen H. Blaising lived a life of purpose. Although he accomplished so much of which to be proud, he was a humble man whose greatest source of pride and joy was found in his family. Stephen considered his roles as a husband and father to be such a blessing, but he just might have argued that becoming a grandfather was the very best part. A man of faith, he lived to serve others in ways both great and small. Never one to let life get the best of him, Stephen’s strength and resilience were truly inspirational. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
It was great to be an American during the decade that we commonly recall as the Roaring Twenties. Ballroom dancing was hot, jazz music continued to be all the rage, and with the invention of the radio we were able to get a clearer picture of the world beyond our front door. It was on April 9, 1923, that Stephen T. and Woodie (Norris) Blaising announced the birth of the baby boy they named Stephen H. in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Raised in the family home on Spring Street in Fort Wayne, he was a typical young boy of his generation. He enjoyed going to the movies, hanging out with his friends, boating and being on the lake, and going to the dance halls. Stephen loved swing dancing and was quite the dancer, too, as once he graduated from high school he even had his dancing shoes bronzed! Dancing was something his sister had taught him, and his mother also made him take dance lessons. Stephen was always very athletic but didn’t compete in any school sports. He did enjoy swimming though at Northside High School’s pool.
After graduating from Northside High School in 1942, Stephen was eager for all that life had in store. His life soon took an unexpected turn when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. Stephen focused on helping care for her until her death in 1943. He was known for his huge heart. While in high school he and a group of kids started their own charity that anyone could be a part of, not just the rich kids. This was a great group of kids who even rented a cabin on the lake during the summer months. They disabled the group after graduation so that it wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands, which they worried would taint then entire mission of the group. While in high school Stephen enjoyed taking electronics classes.
A bit later, Stephen joined the United States Army. Although he was only in the Army for a very short time, it was long enough to meet the young woman who would change the course of his life forever. Her name was Irene Riddle, and they were married in 1945, deeply in love. Together they welcomed two children, Stephanie and Chris, into their hearts and home.
Throughout his life Stephen was known for working hard. After becoming a radio television training associate in Newark, New Jersey, in 1950, he was poised for a rewarding career. During the 1950s Stephen worked in nuclear fission with Capehart-Farnsworth, and in the 1960s he worked with Philo T. Farnsworth, who is known as “the father of television” again with his Fusor Team. With 35 years of service with ITT Aerospace Optical Division in Fort Wayne, he retired in 1985 as an electrical engineer after moving to Whitley County in 1984. Stephen also operated his own television repair business for years.
There was never anything of greater significance to Stephen than his family. When the weather was cold enough, he would convert the family’s backyard into a skating rink and even design and build a skate chair to push his daughter in as he skated alongside. During the summers they often took trips boating and camping all over. A kid at heart, Stephen also enjoyed water skiing while they were boating. He took two weeks of vacation for these trips in the summer. In the 1960s, they started also going to Florida as a family. Stephen was interested in colonial times and loved taking the family to go see reenactments and to visit historical sites. He was deeply saddened with the death of his wife.
As his family and friends can attest, Stephen was always one to keep busy. He was very handy and could figure out how to fix or repair anything. Stephen especially enjoyed working on cars. He was very proud of his cars, too, especially his BMW convertible that he's had for the past four years. Stephen’s skills as a handyman also gave way to his love for woodworking. For years he was very involved with his church, Laud Christian Church, including as a Bible study and Sunday school teacher. Stephen also served as a deacon, served at the table for four-and-a-half years, and filled in preaching for short periods of time when they were without a regular pastor. He became a “Jerusalem Pilgrim” when he traveled to the Holy City in 1988. Along with his dedication of being a Christian and being active with his church, Stephen was also a member of the National Rifle Association and the American Legion Post 98 in Columbia City.
New and exciting changes were in store for Stephen when he met Betty Jane “BJ” Strutz later in life. They were married on February 28, 2001. They enjoyed just being together and doing things like dancing, attending parties, and going to his ITT banquets. Betty loved the flowers at their house, and even after she passed away Stephen was always out gardening and making sure they looked great in honor of her memory. He was known for his Halloween costumes and won several awards for them over the years. One of the things Stephen was also known for were his practical jokes since he was such a funny guy with a great sense of humor that developed early on in his youth. Spending time with his grandchildren was one of his favorite things to do, and he often took them along on trips to visit their aunt. Stephen did enjoy traveling, but he also started missing his cats not long after leaving. He never really wanted to leave them for long periods of time as he was an animal lover from the time he was young. When he was younger Stephen regularly nursed animals back to health. Over the years there were plenty of pets including birds, dogs, and cats in his home.
Although he was known for his love for animals, the way he enjoyed his cigarettes and coffee, and his amazing handyman skills, what Stephen Blaising was most known for the way he loved life. He had a positive attitude, even when life was hard, and his faith remained unwavering in every circumstance. A devoted family man, Stephen cherished every moment that he was surrounded by the ones he loved. He will be forever missed.
Stephen H. Blaising, of Columbia City, Indiana, passed away at 7:58 p.m. Friday, July 7, 2017, at Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne. Survivors include his son, Chris (Lynda) Blaising, of Columbia City; daughter, Stephanie Blaising of Pompano Beach, Florida; grandchildren, Ryne Blaising and Jenna (Ben) Blaising Pearce; half-brothers, Bill (Bonnie) Blaising and Charles (Annette) Best, both of Zanesville; half-sister, Katie (Russ) Nichols, of North Manchester; a special niece, Shelly Cohen and many other loving nieces and nephews. Stephen was preceded in death by his parents; and both wives; grandson, Logan Blaising; sister, LaVon Cavanaugh and Donna Jones; brother, Donald Blaising; an infant brother; and half-brother, Jim Blaising.
Visitation is 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, July 12, 2017, at DeMoney-Grimes, a Life Story Funeral Home, 600 Countryside Drive, Columbia City. Funeral services are 10 a.m. Thursday at the funeral home with Pastor Art Herrick and Pastor James Clifford officiating. Entombment will follow at Covington Memorial Gardens. Memorial gifts may be given in his memory to Laud Christian Church. Visit www.demoneygrimes.com to send family condolences.