Lewis M. Blossom obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Lewis M. Blossom

September 19, 1915 - November 24, 2016

Obituary


LEWIS MILTON BLOSSOM

Lew was born September 19, 1915 in Madison, Wisconsin. He was the second eldest of Frank Lewis Blossom and Marie (Samuelson) Blossom's four children.

Lew was raised in the Pentecostal church. His father's faith was very strict - no coffee, no pork, no reading the newspaper or engaging in business on Sundays, no alcohol, tobacco, dancing, or card-playing or anything "worldly" was allowed. Lew's faith was also very important to him, but not quite as strict. He was an active member in the churches he regularly attended through the years.

LEWIS MILTON BLOSSOM

Lew was born September 19, 1915 in Madison, Wisconsin. He was the second eldest of Frank Lewis Blossom and Marie (Samuelson) Blossom's four children.

Lew was raised in the Pentecostal church. His father's faith was very strict - no coffee, no pork, no reading the newspaper or engaging in business on Sundays, no alcohol, tobacco, dancing, or card-playing or anything "worldly" was allowed. Lew's faith was also very important to him, but not quite as strict. He was an active member in the churches he regularly attended through the years.

His mom washed and ironed laundry for the students at the University of Wisconsin and his dad was a traveling salesman. Lew warmly recalled accompanying his dad many times on his road trip adventures across the country.

In his youth, Lew spent many days ice skating and playing ice hockey with his friends on Lake Mendota near his home. He remembered having a bicycle with wooden spokes. He learned to drive at age 12 and bought his first car, a Model T, for $1. He also recalled having a Buick Coupe with a rumble seat. Lew was a Boy Scout and eventually earned the ranking of Eagle Scout. He loved to play the trumpet and recalled playing Reveille and Taps while sitting in a canoe in the middle of the lake during Boy Scout camp. He played so well, in fact, that a local radio station asked him to come into the studio and play his trumpet over the airwaves.

When Lew was 12, his mom called the Wisconsin State Journal and requested Lew be given a paper route. So began his working career. He recalled that the newspaper cost $0.15 per week back then. He reminisced that he enticed his younger brother, Charles, to work for him and help him deliver the paper, as he soon was assigned several routes. This memory evoked thoughts of his specific clients and also made him think how difficult it was for him and Charles to collect the 15 cents from his clients.

Lew met his future wife, Helen, in Sunday School when she was 15 and he was 16 years old and they dated all through high school. Lew would harken back to thoughts of driving Helen and her sister and brothers to school every day.

Lew and Helen were married soon after he graduated from high school and because Lew was not yet 18, his father had to sign court papers allowing him to marry. They lived with Helen's parents before they moved into a one room apartment of their own. A year after they married, they had a daughter, Audrey Jean, known to everyone as Jean. Unfortunately, when Jean was 6 years old, she was diagnosed with "infantile paralysis," better known as polio. Helen and Lew would take turns applying warm compresses to Jean's legs around the clock, as their house was quarantined. To help with medical finances during this time, Lew taught himself to use a sewing machine, making all of Jean's clothes, and continuing to sew for her into her teens.

Lew had plans to enlist in the service, however, when he arrived at the enlistment office, they told him he was color blind and he was turned down, thus, was not able to serve in the military during WWII. Instead, he went to work at the Ray-O-Vac company making batteries for $16 per week. (He received a $2 raise when he married Helen.) However, this was not what he had planned as a career. To that end, after he would work a full shift at Ray-O-Vac, he would then go down to the Madison Trolley and Bus Company, where he would sit hour after hour every day until his persistence paid off, and a supervisor finally agreed to hire him as a motorman on street cars (trolleys).

During the 10 years Lew worked on trolleys in Madison, Helen developed chronic sinus infections. Her doctor recommended she move to the dryer climate of Colorado. So in 1949, Lew packed up the family and moved to Denver. Lew interviewed at the Denver Tramway Corporation. He was hired as a trolley car driver but soon after was made a bus driver. One year after moving to Denver, their second daughter, Lynne, was born. While Jean was in school, Helen would bundle up Lynne and they would ride on Lew's bus from one end of his route to the other, so they could spend time with him.

Working for the Denver Tramway and later the Denver Regional Transportation Dept. (RTD), (when the Tramway was purchased by the government) spanned a career in transportation that lasted an additional 32 years. From being hired as a trolley car driver, then bus driver, to foreman of the machine shop, then foreman of the maintenance department, and finally retiring as the RTD District Maintenance Manager, he won many awards along the way. However, with promotions comes responsibilities, working sun up to sun down, 6 and many times 7 days a week, and being available all hours of the night to diagnose any problems with the bus fleet serving the entire Denver Metro area. Lew was the go-to-guy when it came to diagnosing problems with a sick bus. RTD would frequently send him back to the Midwest, where the buses and diesel engines were manufactured, to educate him on all the latest electrical, hydraulic, and mechanical systems being used on the buses RTD purchased. Rumor has it he could diagnose an ailing diesel engine or power train problem, just by listening to it. Making sure every bus in the fleet was up and running caused more than a little stress from time to time, which is why he always had a bottle of Tums sitting on his desk, and is why he took to fishing and traveling in his RV with Helen. Since he had spent many years at the beginning of his career driving buses, handling an RV was no problem. It was the only time Lew could get away from his job responsibilities and truly relax. Their RV road adventures took them through Colorado, and from Naples, Florida to Branson, Missouri, to Pasadena, California, and back to Madison, as well as many places in between. They continued to explore the country until their mid-80s.

In his off time, Lew was a voracious reader, many times reading a book in a day. Lew also owned 2 rental homes that he, himself, maintained. He was a craftsman, with projects that included remodeling entire houses, installing furnaces and water heaters, and repairing or installing plumbing and electrical systems - really no project seemed difficult for him to accomplish! Karl, his son-in-law, taught Lew how to use a computer. Lew enjoyed using "the machine," as Helen referred to the computer, thru the years, especially studying family genealogy and creating beautiful holiday cards for his family and friends with his trademark signature stamp of "Blossom Creation" underneath a flower on the back page of each card.

However, when the responsibilities of a big house with a big yard and maintaining the two rentals became too much for Lew and Helen to handle, on Karl's recommendation, they decided to visit Holly Creek. In August of 2006, they purchased a brand new Malibu and moved into their Holly Creek independent living apartment when they were both 90 (Lew turned 91 the next month.) They had 4 years of living "the good life" at Holly Creek, where they met wonderful people, until in 2010, after being married for 76 years (exactly 1 month short of 77 years) Helen sadly passed away from congestive heart failure. Lew missed Helen tremendously, but continued to live alone in his independent living apartment (his doctor called him ferociously independent), with his only social encounters being dinner time in the Centennials dining room and the daily phone calls and visits from his family.

Then, last December Lew fell in his apartment. After a hospital stay and rehab, it was noted by the rehab staff that Lew's memory was failing. It was determined that the Meadows memory center at Holly Creek would be the most beneficial place for him to live. Lew moved into the Meadows in January 2016. His family cannot say enough wonderful things about the Meadows staff and residents. Lew suddenly had a new set of friends who all ate together, went on outings together (for instance taking the bus to view the changing colors of the aspens) and simply enjoyed being together. Lew's family believes that each of the Meadows staff are amazing people, making sure all the residents are included in activities while also observing for any problems that might occur; they are extremely caring and patient and kind caregivers!

The Meadows staff thought so much of Lew that they called him "grandpa." The different staff members recalled, "Lew was the calmest, most patient man." "He was the person that if you were having a bad day, you went to see him and he would make you smile and feel good again." "Lew cared about everyone else before himself." "When I would come in to wake him up in the morning, he would say 'it is too early for you to be up - you kids need to go back to bed.'" "He always had a smile for you." "A couple of weeks ago, when his family members were visiting Lew, they asked him, 'How do you feel?' With his quick wit and dry sense of humor, Lew replied, "Usually with my 2 hands."

After a few days of an undetermined fever, early Thanksgiving morning, Lew's 101-year journey came to an end, taking his last breath with his family by his side.

In our minds eye, we see Lew and Helen strolling hand-in-hand together again. While Lew may not be with us on this earth any longer, his legacy lives on. As someone once said, "A good life leaves behind seeds that keep growing." His stories, his values, his faith in God, and his love of family will live on in each of us who knew him and who loved him.

Lew's family believe him to be the most amazingly wonderful, caring, kind, generous, wise, patient, calm, smart, funny, sweet, religiously faithful, inquisitively curious, and loving man they have ever known. His daughter has said, "Though our hearts are heavy, they are also filled with gratitude for the many gifts he left us."

Lew is preceded in death by his mother, father, older sister Florence, younger brothers Charles and Glenn, wife Helen, and his daughter Jean (Bob).

He is survived by his daughter, Lynne (Karl), granddaughter Laurie (Kevin), grandson Randy (Dawn), and great grandchildren, Ryan (Kelsey), Shaun (Jen), Lindsey, Sydne, Jaylan, Josiah, Jeremiah, and Tatum.

Family Memories:

Lew was the grand patriarch of his family. Lew and Helen enjoyed making the best Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners every year. That tradition continued into their late 80's, until they were just too tired to prepare a big meal anymore.

Lynne recalls how unselfish Lew was. When she was in junior high, she was having difficulties comprehending what was referred to as the "new math" (remember base 2 and base 5?). At that time, her Dad was working the swing shift. When Lew would get home from work, after working a 12 hour day, he would study her textbooks, complete her math problems so he understood the math because it was new to him too, and then would wake Lynne at 3 or 4 in the morning and tutor her until she made sense of it, and then he would finally go to bed.

Lynne remembers when she was young, fishing with her Dad in their fishing boat on Cherry Creek Reservoir on Saturday afternoons while her mom was at work and remembers watching old movies with her Dad late into the night like "Stormy Weather." She inherited Lew's love of reading, as well as his love of the outdoors and camping. Her Dad and Mom both made her feel that she could do anything in life she wanted to do. She remembers the many sacrifices her parents made to allow her to attend college and nursing school. She loved to hear her Dad sing hymns in church in his very deep bass voice. One of Lynne's sweetest memories was when she was young and her Dad would stride across the floor with her standing on his feet. She also recalls how every Christmas Eve her Dad would read the Christmas story to the entire family from the family Bible and pray for them all before anyone could open presents.

Karl's memories are centered on his friendship with Lew; how quickly Lew learned to use the computer; and Lew's quiet demeanor and patience with all people he encountered.

Laurie recalls fondly when her grandpa and grandma would come to see her play her flute at concerts, and her grandpa would stand up and waive to her, which made her blush from embarrassment. Laurie says she felt her grandfather loved her as a daughter and supported her in everything she did. She reminisces, "He was a man filled with wisdom and understanding."

Kevin will always appreciate the electrical and mechanical repair skills Lew taught him, such as how to repair a washer and how to connect a ceiling fan.

Ryan's favorite memory was that he and Lew would always shake hands when they saw each other. Lew had a very strong handshake, which would encourage Ryan to grip Lew's hand harder. This then turned into a handshake squeezing contest that would last for several minutes. This ritual continued until Lew was well into his 90's.

Shaun would call his great grandfather almost every week when he was in the Army, stationed in Alaska. Both Shaun and Lew looked forward to those special phone calls and long chats.

Lindsey recalls her entire family visiting her Nana and Papa once a week in the summers while her brothers, Ryan and Shaun, mowed Lew and Helen's lawn on Geddes. When the boys were finished, Lew and Helen would serve drinks and snacks, while sitting on the tailgate of their truck, swinging their legs, and catching up on the family's news. She also has long lasting memories of wonderful Christmas Eves at Nana and Papa's house.

Celebration of Life and Faith to be held at 11:30 am, Saturday, December 3, 2016 at Holly Creek Retirement Community, 5500 E Peakview Ave, Centennial, CO 80121, preceded by a private, family burial at Olinger Chapel Hill Mortuary and Cemetery in Centennial.