The Indiana University East community is remembering George T. Blakey, Jr., Ph.D., who passed away October 9, 2017. The Professor Emeritus of History will be long remembered as an outstanding educator.
Chancellor Kathryn Cruz-Uribe said, “The IU East community is very saddened by this news. Dr. Blakey was one of the campus’ original faculty members and leaves behind a tremendous legacy through his academic work, classroom instruction and community engagement. We extend our condolences to his family and friends, former colleagues and students. He will be missed.”
Blakey was granted tenure with IU East when the campus was established in July 1971. Previously, he taught American History at the Eastern Indiana Center of Earlham College and for Indiana University in 1967. He was the first faculty member at IU East to reach the rank of full professor.
Blakey was a guest lecturer, published book reviews, articles, and books as well as commissioned works on Richmond and Wayne County history. Along with the late IU East Chancellor Emeritus David Fulton, Blakey helped to draft the first faculty constitution for the faculty senate. He was also instrumental in the creation of the Campus Library archive collection.
As a testament to his teaching, Blakey was the first recipient of the IU East Alumni Association Award in 1977 and the first IU East faculty member to earn an IU system-wide award, the IU Distinguished Teaching Award in 1981.
He received the 1978 and 1988 IU East Summer Faculty Fellowship and the Lilly Endowment Faculty Fellowship in 1975-76.
Students too honored his work. The IU East Student Senate presented him with the Exceptional Service to Students Award in 1987 and the Outstanding Service Award by the Student Life Committee.
In return, Blakey fondly remembered his students, saying many of those he instructed went on to be successful members of the community as mayors, teachers, police officers, lawyers and doctors.
In retirement, Blakey continued to support student scholarships, research and service-learning at IU East. He supported two scholarships for IU East students. The George Blakey Library Research Award for Presentation and Oral Presentation Winners is an award presented on Student Research Day. The George T. Blakey U.S. History Essay Prize for undergraduate students; the essays are on any topic related to the history of the United States.
Most recently in October 2016, Blakey was inducted into the Indiana University Presidents Circle. The Presidents Circle honors Indiana University’s most generous donors. Members are presented with a personalized medallion cast with a portion of the original carillon bells that once rang in the IU Bloomington Student Building and their names are added to the honor wall in the Indiana Memorial Union.
Blakey was also active in the Richmond and Wayne County community including the Richmond Civic Theatre (RCT). He helped to write the first installment of Richmond Civic Theatre’s history and chaired the organization’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. Blakey also served on the RCT board of directors in the 1970s and was part of the decision to present Man of La Mancha, which helped revitalize the theatre program after a difficult financial period. Blakey was also a longtime patron and philanthropist of the organization, including a major gift to RCT’s last major capital campaign in 2014. For his service to RCT, Blakey was recognized with the Civic Theatre Silbiger Award for Distinguished Service in 1980.
The Richmond Art Museum (RAM) also benefited from Blakey’s leadership and generosity. He served as a RAM trustee for several years and was instrumental in creating the organization’s permanent collection policy. Blakey remained an avid supporter and patron of RAM after his service on the board.
In addition, he served as an instructor for Leadership Wayne County, an advisor to the Wayne County Historical Museum, a volunteer at Morrisson-Reeves Library and as a philanthropist to Hayes Arboretum. Blakey was a previous member of the Art Association of Richmond and Wayne County Historical Society. He was instrumental in the conception and coordination of the community celebration for the U.S. Bicentennial. In recognition of his community service, Blakey received the Lion’s Club Outstanding Citizen Award in 1976 and the Rotary Club Outstanding Educator Award in 1977.
After teaching for 33 years, Blakey retired in May 2001. He opened a bookstore in downtown Richmond, The Old Book Shoppe, in an effort to help provide books to the community and serve as a promoter of literary works.
Blakey received his Bachelor of Art in History and Political Science from Berea College, Kentucky, and his Masters of Art in History and Political Science from Vanderbilt University. He received his Ph.D. in History and Political Science from Indiana University Bloomington. He was born and raised in Beattyville, Kentucky.
Blakey was preceded in death by his wife, Dr. Carolyn Smith Blakey, who passed away in 2003, as well as his parents, George T. and Eulela Lyons Blakey, and sister, Sally Capobianco. He is survived by his sister, ByGee Gutierrez of Cincinnati, OH, and brother-in-law, James Capobianco, of New Jersey, as well as many friends, colleagues and former students who remember him fondly.
A memorial service will be held for George T. Blakey, Jr. on November 12, 2017, at 2 p.m. in Vivian Auditorium, located in Whitewater Hall on the IU East campus.