Obituary: Hank Blake / Founded Lock Haven wrestling program
Hank Blake was always an ambitious man and always worked hard to accomplish his goals, his wife, Nikki, said.
Mr. Blake of Greensburg died Saturday at his home. He was 92.
A native of DuBois, Mr. Blake graduated from Lock Haven State Teachers College with a bachelor's degree in physical education. In 1948, he earned a master's degree in physical education and guidance from Northwestern University.
One of his early accomplishments came in 1939, when he was a freshman at Lock Haven. He founded the wrestling program, became the student coach and led the team to a winning record in its first season, finishing at 3-2. In 1940, he competed in the first Pennsylvania State Athletic Championships and won the 175-pound weight class.
His contributions to athletics earned him membership into the Lock Haven Wrestling Hall of Fame, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Hall of Fame and the Westmoreland County Hall of Fame.
He later coached at Columbia University, the University of Chicago, Shady Side Academy and Greensburg Salem High School.
Mr. Blake joined the Navy in 1942 and served as a P.T. boat captain. He said he piloted the boat that took Japanese officials to the battleship USS Missouri for the signing of the surrender in World War II.
"He always told great stories about his time in the Navy and was proud for the things they accomplished," Mrs. Blake said.
In 1954, with Dick Kepple and Larry Goodman, he broke ground on the Cloverleaf Golf Course in Delmont. Mr. Blake's two sons later became his partners, but he continued working at the course until the age of 86. His sons still operate the business.
He was a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Greensburg since 1952, serving as an elder, singing in the choir and teaching Sunday school. He was a great wood carver and helped create wooden crosses for mission churches in Sudan.
"Many of the crosses that he built are actually up in many of the churches in the Sudan Darfur region," said the Rev. Donna Havrisko.
He was preceded in death by his first wife of 50 years, Betty Kepple Blake, in 1992.
In addition to his wife, Nikki, Mr. Blake is survived by two daughters, Patricia Purnell of New Bern, N.C., and Nancy Davis of Richmond, Va.; two sons, Michael T. Blake and William H. Blake, both of Greensburg; two stepchildren, Amanda Valentine of State College and Joseph Yahner of California; 17 grandchildren; and 17 great-grandchildren.
The family invites friends to remember his life at 9:30 a.m. today in Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1120 Harvey Ave., Greensburg, until the funeral service at 11 a.m. Kepple Graft Funeral Home in Greensburg is handling arrangements.
First Published December 14, 2012 12:00 am