Obituary: Edward R. Blakeley / Spent professional life in uniform

July 13, 1923 -- May 24, 2013

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Edward R. Blakeley spent much of his life in uniform, enlisting in the U.S. Marines after graduating from Schenley High School in 1941 and, upon his return, serving more than 30 years as a police officer for the city of Pittsburgh.

Mr. Blakeley, 89, who died Friday at his Lawrenceville home from heart failure and pneumonia, was barely 18 when he enlisted and he was among the first Marines shipped to the South Pacific.

While in World War II, he was injured twice in battles with Japanese forces as part of the 1st Marine Division, first at Guadalcanal in 1942 and then at the Battle of Peleliu in 1944. He was later awarded two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and several other commendations for his service.

After the war, Mr. Blakeley returned to Pittsburgh, eventually joining the city police. He also met Helen Szymanski at a school dance and the two immediately hit it off. A year later, they married and settled in Lawrenceville, where they raised three children. Their 65th wedding anniversary is this July.

For years Mr. Blakeley was part of the city police ambulance unit, and he also played trumpet in the police band and was part of a barbershop quartet of officers who entertained patients at local hospitals. Before his retirement in 1986, Mr. Blakeley walked a beat in his own Lawrenceville neighborhood. "The kids really respected him," Mrs. Blakeley said.

Off duty, Mr. Blakeley managed his son's Little League baseball team and served a term as president of the local Boys Club. He was also a member of the Fraternal Order of Police No. 1, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and American Legion Post No. 710.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Blakeley is survived by daughters Elaine Auen of Sharpsburg and Karen Piasecki of Shaler; a son, Edward Blakeley of Pine; six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

The funeral will be held at noon today at the Walter J. Zalewski Funeral Home, 216 44th St., Lawrenceville.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, 301 Grant St., Suite 900, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.

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Steve Twedt: stwedt@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1963.


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