Ervin Ralph Blish, 85, formerly of Kokomo, died Saturday, June 22, 2013, at home. Ervin was born in Lincoln, Neb., Aug. 24, 1927, to George Ralph Blish and Ruby Jane (Troyer) Blish.
He rode his bike to school, had a paper route from a young age, and worked part time at Burroughs Adding Machine Co. while attending Lincoln Central High School. Upon graduation at 17, he joined the Navy during World War II and was a proud member of Captain Eddy’s Navy in the early study of radar. Through careful rationing of his GI Bill benefits, Ervin completed his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at the University of Nebraska in 1949, with additional credits in liberal arts.
Although considered the rakish upperclassman sailor in the Palladian Literary Society, Ervin pursued a movie date with freshman Louise Metzger. Despite her friends’ concerns, a college romance began. He rode a motorcycle across 400 miles of rough 1950 Nebraska roads to visit Louise’s family ranch in the Sand Hills. After her graduation, Ervin and Louise married Nov. 9, 1951 in Lincoln, Neb. They first lived in Great Bend, Kan., then moved in 1967 to Bloomington, where Ervin became the chief engineer at Hoosier Energy.
Ervin worked for several electrical distribution and construction firms during his career as a professional engineer, and was a 50-year member of the IEEE. Projects he oversaw included: the construction of electrical power generating plants in Indiana and Kentucky; the Army’s M-1 tank facility in Lima, Ohio; and the Citizens Fidelity Tower in Louisville, Ky. Recruited by the Agency for International Development during the Kennedy administration, he traveled to Ecuador and Peru to oversee the delivery of electrical power to remote areas high in the Andes.
Ervin was a reader from his early years. His hero was Clarence Darrow; his poets, Rudyard Kipling and Robert Service. He was a lifelong liberal. He liked word puzzles and Nebraska Cornhusker football; many decks of cards were replaced before his children introduced him to Free Cell. He enjoyed being the clever patriarch of the family. The engineer in him was fond of dismantling, and usually fixing, household items.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Louise Blish; his children, Angela O’Malley (Tim), Rebecca Carter (Steve), Jeanette Hathaway (Jeff), and David Blish (Susan); his grandchildren, Alison O’Malley (Sean Larson), Emily O’Malley, Andrew Hinnefeld (Misty), Edward Hinnefeld, Elizabeth Hathaway (John Balbach Jr.), Brian Hathaway, Madeline Blish and Abigail Blish; and great-grandchildren, Maya and Charles Hinnefeld.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and a brother, Robert George Blish.
Friends of the family are invited to a memorial service at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Allen Funeral Home, 4155 S. Old State Road 37, Bloomington. An informal celebration of Ervin’s life will continue until 7 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in his name may be made to Shriners Hospitals, Goodwill Industries or the Salvation Army.