Tuesday, Nov 13, 2018
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Norman Blume (1924-2018)

UT professor kept track of international and local political events


Norman Blume, 94, a University of Toledo professor emeritus of political science and an “outstanding teacher” honoree who in the early 1970s helped organize a faculty union, died Oct. 21, in Laguna Hills, Calif.

He had Parkinson’s disease, his wife, Elise Blume, said. The couple moved to southern California more than 20 years ago.

He became an emeritus professor at UT after he retired in 1983, but taught into the 1990s. He walked to campus from the family home on Barrington Drive in Old Orchard, the neighborhood nearby.

Mr. Blume kept track of political currents on the local and international stages. In 1988, he endorsed a ballot measure in favor of strong-mayor government for Toledo.

He said no one under the city’s then-current city manager system was working to convince Chrysler that its Jeep plant needed to stay in Toledo.

“We’re sitting on what I consider a potential economic disaster,” Mr. Blume said in 1988. He added that city-manager systems worked when a city required only basic services, but that Toledo needed a strong leader to handle racial problems, class conflicts, and economic development. Toledo voters later adopted charter changes, and the city’s first strong mayor in decades was elected in 1993.

In April, 1984, the dawn of a presidential election year, Mr. Blume noted that computers could help parties and candidates create banks of information on voters and contributors. That would not be enough, he said.

“The secret is all in the box, isn’t it? Politics is increasingly the science of creating an image,” Mr. Blume told The Blade in 1984. “It is that image for which people vote, and nothing can do it like television.”

He had an eclectic teaching style, his son Daniel said: “He captivated the audience from the get-go. He was a complete introvert outside the classroom.”

Mr. Blume’s wife said: “I took his class. I couldn’t believe that was my husband in front of me,” his wife said.

Herral Long, a Blade photographer, captured Mr. Blume’s animated approach in 1957 for a photo essay in the Sunday magazine entitled, “Now, As I Was Saying...” Each pose before a chalkboard bears a caption — “Now let’s see, where’ll we start,” and “Well, this point seems best,” and “Of course there are always problems,” among them.

Future public servants took his classes, said his son, who works for the Humboldt County office of education.

“Toledo meant a lot to my father,” his son said. “He enjoyed seeing his work come true with some of the successes of local politicians.”

Mr. Blume received a 1967 Outstanding Teacher Award.

In 1971, Mr. Blume was a lead organizer in a successful drive to have the American Federation of Teachers represent faculty members. He became president of Local 1435. Since the early 1990s, the American Association of University Professors has represented UT faculty.

He was born July 2, 1924, in New Haven, Conn., to Ruth and Frank Blume. An Army Air Corps veteran of World War II, he served in the Pacific Theater.

He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree from Boston University. UT hired him in 1956, months after he received a doctorate in political science from Ohio State University.

Surviving are his wife, Elise Chueke Blume, whom he married July 26, 1953; sons, Burt Allen Blume and Daniel R. Blume; and a grandson.

Mr. Blume was cremated, and there will be no services, his wife said.

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