Kenneth Earl Blaschke, age 88 of Smithville, Texas passed away on April 24 peacefully surrounded by his family. He was born October 16, 1931 in La Grange, Texas to Ewald Otto Blaschke and Marie Vacek Blaschke of Schulenburg. Texas. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Berneth Blaschke and sister Jean Trefny. He is survived by Renee, his wife of almost 65 years; three children - Kenneth Blaschke II (Connie), Rex Blaschke (Karen), and Rochelle Blaschke Schlortt (David) and five grandchildren - Kiley, Casey and Erinn Schlortt, and Christopher and Taylor Blaschke; brother EJ Blaschke (Susan), sister-in-law Hazel Blaschke, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Ken graduated from Schulenburg High School where he obtained the name “Killer”- a result of his aggressive moves on the football field. Throughout his life, he was a strong supporter of his Schulenburg Shorthorns and continued to attend his class reunions until this past year.
After attending Blinn College and graduating from The University of Texas School of Pharmacy, he entered the United States Army and was stationed at Ft. Sam Houston as Specialist First Class and Chief Pharmacist for Brook Army Hospital. It was during this time that he met Renee Dhossche, the love of his life. They married July 1956 in San Antonio and made their home in Smithville, Texas where he had purchased his Uncle’s Pharmacy, later known as Ken’s Pharmacy, a business he and Renee owned and operated for 37 years. After selling the pharmacy in 1992, he continued as a local relief pharmacist at Smithville Pharmacy and throughout the area.
Ken was very active in the Smithville community, serving on the SISD schoolboard for many years while his three children were in school. He was appointed by Mayor Woodress as a member of the founding committee of the Smithville Housing Authority where he served as chairman of the board and continued to be appointed to this position for over 40 years by subsequent mayors. He was instrumental in getting Smithville Gardens, a low-income housing sub-division, built. As a result of his service, the city named the main thoroughfare Ken Blaschke Drive.
Ken, along with several other concerned fathers, developed the first Little League Baseball Park across from Smithville Gardens. The project – The Dennis Walker Little League Park - was organized and partially funded by the Optimist Club, where he was a member.
Ken worked very closely with Dr. James Thomas in raising funds, planning, and designing the Smithville Hospital, which at one time, was the envy of the area. In addition to his business, he was the part-time pharmacist at the hospital.
Ken served as President of the Smithville Chamber of Commerce and was on the board for many years. In 1980, he was named Smithville’s Outstanding Citizen of the Year. He also served on the committee with Dr. R. Lee Clark to acquire the MD Anderson Cancer Research Center to be built in Buescher State Park near Smithville. The center is now part of the University of Texas system.
Ken served on the board of directors of First State Bank for 30 years, served as Regent of Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Association of the University of Texas, and was a founding member of both the Bastrop County Texas Exes, where he was a Lifetime Member, and the Colorado Valley Pharmaceutical Association. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Texas Pharmacy Association. At the time of his death, he was the tenured membered of 65 years of the Smithville Noon Lions Club where he had served as President and Tail Twister, carrying his fur-lined pot to collect the weekly fines of the members, always finding a reason to fine someone.
A life-long Catholic, he was an active member of St Paul’s Catholic Church and served as finance chairman for almost 30 years. He was a founding member of the 3rd and 4th Degree Council of the Knights of Columbus and served as Grand Knight of both organizations as well as District Deputy Grand Knight.
While the list of accomplishments is long, Ken will be best remembered for his big smile, and giving nicknames to just about everyone, particularly all the young people who came through Ken’s Pharmacy as an employee and his numerous nieces and nephews. He was a compassionate businessman, never denying anyone “down on their luck” medication or financial support to help meet their monthly needs. He was known as “Mr. Ken” by most and beloved for his philanthropic heart.
But his family and anything “UT” was where his heart was. He was a staunch supporter of Jody Conradt and the Lady Longhorns Basketball Team, attending and travelling with the team for many years. In his early years at UT, he was involved in the Intermural Baseball League. His “Longhorn Room” is filled with Longhorn memorabilia from every sport, and he was thrilled when his eldest son and daughter decided to attend The University of Texas.
There will be a graveside service at Oak Hill Cemetery in Smithville at 10 am, Wednesday April 29. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Fr. Bernard of St. Paul’s Catholic Church officiated a private service for the immediate family. A memorial service will be scheduled later. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Texas Garden Club Blaschke Endowment, 3111 Old Garden Road, Ft. Worth, Texas 76107, where Ken and his wife were lifetime members.
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