Rest In Power, Eli

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Was saddened to learn about losing another longtime friend and fellow blogger to cancer. 

I first got yo know Eli as part of the intrepid group of loyal Democrats who in the wake of that 2004 reelection of GW Bush, did battle on the Kicking Ass blog with the conservafools coming to gloat about his win and their premature declarations that liberalism and the Democratic Party were dead.

When I finally joined Facebook, was happy to discover all my KA friends were on this platform and happily reconnected with him.

You may recall TransGriot readers that Eli was one of the peeps who competed with me and Michael Watts for a couple of seasons in our ongoing NFL prognostication contest.

My condolences to his family, friends and all who loved him.

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Eli Whitney Blake III passed away peacefully on July 10, 2020 in Phoenix, AZ after a heroic battle with neuroendocrine cancer. He was 57. Eli was born August 7, 1962 in Albuquerque, NM to Dr. Henry W. Blake and Fay F. Blake, both who preceded him in death.

He was a curious boy who won school spelling bees and enjoyed board games and baseball, and was a voracious reader of encyclopedias and atlases. He attended Temple Albert in Albuquerque, where he was Bar Mitzvaed in 1975. He attended Sandia High School, where he was a member of the Chess Club and the ROTC among his many activities. He graduated in 1980.

He attended New Mexico Tech in Socorro, NM, where he studied Math and Chemistry, graduating in 1985 with a double major. He was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints the same year. While at Tech, he played Rugby, and he also began developing his life-long interest in politics and social justice and worked for local democratic candidates.

He continued his education and political activism at the University of Montana in Missoula where he graduated with a MS in Statistics. He considered continuing for a PhD, but decided to return to the southwest to become an educator, a passion to which he dedicated the rest of his life. His first teaching job was in Phoenix but he soon returned to Albuquerque and began teaching at TVI – a technical community college – in 1991.

At TVI, he was active on the Faculty Senate, and was instrumental in starting the employee union, something he was very proud of accomplishing – he believed strongly in unions and “never crossed a picket line.”

While at TVI, he married Tressa Dennis, whom he had reconnected with in Socorro during a visit in 1986. They married in 1992 in Cedar City, UT, and began their life together with their daughter Valorie in Las Lunas, NM. Shortly thereafter, the young family settled in Moriarty, NM, and welcomed the twins – Leah and Maranda – in 1996.

He left TVI in 1997 and, after a short detour in Corpus Christi TX at Del Mar Community College, they settled in Joseph City, AZ where he began his career with the Northern Pioneer Community College (NPC) system, which primarily serves the Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona. For the rest of his life, he was dedicated to the Navajo community, serving both as an outstanding educator and a community advocate for the people of the reservation. He was also a very dedicated father, and enjoyed supporting them in every way – from helping develop their academic, social, and spiritual interests to uplifting their entire community through his generosity and engagement.

In Joseph City, he was active in the LDS Allen’s Camp Ward, and was engaged in a range of social and political work in the community. He was the Democratic Precinct Committee (PC) person and worked on numerous local, state, and national campaigns, including campaigns for Paul Babbitt and Ann Kirkpatrick; he served as the Navajo County Democratic Party Chair in 2012 when Kirkpatrick was elected. He was always out canvassing, registering people to vote, attending political events, and eagerly engaging in political debate on a wide range of issues.

He was a prolific blogger, starting his blog “Deep Thought” in the early 2000s, and was recognized by the AZ State Press Association in 2006 in the lead-up to the Obama election. All of it led back to his beloved family and community. From purchasing geometry textbooks for his daughters’ entire 9th grade class to serving on the Joseph City Fire Board to going door-to-door on the reservation for the US Census to his 20 year commitment to the Arizona Republic through his paper route, he was a ubiquitous presence in the lives of all he touched and will be greatly missed.

He is survived by his daughters, Leah Blake and Maranda Blake of Gilbert, AZ, Valorie Brooks and her husband Hunter Brooks and their daughters, April, Andrea, Brooklyn, and Baylee of Joseph City, and by Tressa Blake of Joseph City, his sister, Miriam Blake and her wife Sue Hine of High Point, NC, and best friend, Misti Lee of Show Low, AZ.

A Celebration of Life for Eli will be held in a future month when COVID has receded and it is safe for all those who want to attend to be together and celebrate his memory.

The family requests that donations be made in his name to eitherthe Midwest Food Bank Arizona Division – please note the donation should be directed to Helping Hands for the Navajo Nation in his name

https://www.midwestfoodbank.org/locations/gilbert-az/donate-arizona

orthe Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation (https://netrf.org/get-involved/give-now/)

We will be holding a memorial after Covid-19 has calmed down a little bit. We will post more information about his memorial at a later date.

***

Rest in power El.

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