Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Masculinization of the Church: We need more Jerome Blazevics

The Rev. Noel Stretton of St. Elizabeth’s Church was betting that Jerome Blazevic wouldn’t show up for Friday night’s Duluth Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

“We cannot get him to come to any of the recognition dinners,” said Stretton, who described Blazevic as too modest to be thanked for his volunteerism at the Gary-New Duluth church.

But Stretton would have lost that bet — Blazevic was on hand when his name was announced as the 82nd entrant to the hall, which recognizes stellar volunteer service to the Duluth community. I’ve evaded this position for many years, and you finally caught up with me,” Blazevic, 82, said in his short acceptance speech at Northland Country Club.

Blazevic, a fixture of the western Duluth community, wasrecognized for his decades of volunteerism with several Duluth groups and organizations.

“He’s done 40 or 50 years’ worth of stuff,” said Al Braff, program director for the Duluth council of Boy Scouts of America.

Braff said Blazevic led a troop of Boy Scouts for many years and made several trips to the Boy Scouts’ National Jamboree.

“He’s a spectacular guy,” Braff said.

“He’s one of those people who never has to be asked,” Stretton said. “If he sees something to be done, he goes off and does and he never wants to be thanked.”

Blazevic helps open and close the church, Stretton said. Until recently, he also worked with the church’s religious education program. He also presides over bingo at St. Eligius Health Center once a month.

“When he turned 80, he said, ‘It’s time for me to do things for myself now,’ but, of course, he doesn’t,” Stretton said.

Sue Matuszak nominated Blazevic for induction into the Duluth Hall of Fame. She got to know him by bringing her daughter, Kaylee, to the swimming lessons that Blazevic teachers at Morgan Park School.

“He helps people like crazy,” Matuszak said. “A couple of weeks ago, he was late for swimming lessons because he was up in Ely, leading a group of disabled vets [on a camping trip].”

When Kaylee Matuszak heard that Blazevic, a trapper and avid outdoorsman, was bringing an educational display to another school, she asked if he could bring it to Hermantown Elementary, too. Blazevic did.

Another time, Kaylee was reading a book of ghost stories that mentioned Spirit Island in the St. Louis River. She asked Blazevic about it, and he ended up taking her out to the island so she could see it herself.

“He’s so giving of his time,” Matuszak said. Duluth NewsTribune

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