Former Middletown councilman, successful steel business owner dies at 93

MIDDLETOWN — Tom Blake, a well-known athlete, successful businessman and politician, is being remembered for his contributions to the Middletown community.

“His life is an excellent playbook for any young entrepreneur on how to balance business and serve their community,” said Rick Pearce, president of the Chamber of Commerce serving Middletown, Monroe and Trenton. “Middletown was definitely the beneficiary of his selfless efforts.”

Blake, the owner of Blake Steel who served three terms on Middletown City Commission, chaired the commission from 1976-81 and volunteered on numerous boards, died last week. He was 93.

Dennis Vitori said he met Blake at Forest Hills Country Club in 1969 and they remained business associates and friends for 51 years. Vitori said he attended countless Cincinnati Bengals games and 26 Super Bowls with Blake, who played one season with the American Football League New York Bulldogs.

Vitori marveled at the number of boards Blake served on and his dedication to his hometown.

“He cared about the community,” Vitori said. “He was a pillar in the community.”

Blake graduated in 1945 from Middletown High School. After high school, Blake, an offensive tackle, attended the University of Tennessee and graduated in 1949 from the University of Cincinnati, which inducted him into its Athletic Hall of Fame. He’s also a member of the MHS Athletic Hall of Fame.

In Middletown, he was past president of YMCA, past president of Junior Achievement, former Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce board member, founding donor of the Middletown Community Foundation, director of Abilities First during its first 20 years, and chaired numerous fundraising campaigns.

Last year, Blake became the third recipient of the Richard W. Slagle Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award, joining Dick Slagle in 2014 and Wilbur Cohen in 2015.

One of his four granddaughters, Courtney Killin, of Middletown, said her grandfather instilled the importance of compassion and dedication and being generous with your time and money.

She called him “the perfect role model.”

He was preceded in death by his wife of 72 years, Gwyn, and his two daughters, Terri Blake Halsey and Lisa Blake French.

Visitation will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at Wilson-Schramm-Spaulding Funeral Home, 3805 Roosevelt Blvd., followed by a memorial service at 1 p.m. A celebration of life will be held from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. today at The Windamere, 2 S. Main St.

Private inurnment will take place at Woodside Cemetery.

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