1932 RHS graduate
Clarence Blakeslee graduated from Rockford High School in 1932 after a distinguished high school career that included varsity letters in track, football and basketball. He was also a success in the classroom, as evidenced by his selection to the National Honor Society, an honor he prized his whole life.
After high school, Clarence began a life of learning. He attended Kalamazoo College, but his life circumstances did not allow him to complete college in a traditional manner. He continued to enroll in college classes throughout his life, many for the simple joy of learning.
Clarence survived the battles of the Hurtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge in World War II and was decorated for bravery during his service to our country. His experiences provided him stories which he shared over the years with students and the community. He wrote and produced his own story of the war, which has been a best seller in Rockford ever since. He donated all proceeds of his book sales to the Rockford Area Historical Society and the Rockford Rotary Club.
As a businessman, Clarence established his own business in Rockford which still thrives today. His business, first as Rockford Sheet Metal and later as Blakeslee & Son Inc., quickly earned a reputation for quality, service, fair pricing, and absolute honesty.
Clarence was committed to the Rockford community. He served as president of the Rotary Club and was a charter member of the Rockford Community Foundation, now known as the Rockford Area Community Endowment. He was appointed by Gov. William Milliken to the State Plumbing Board. He was a founding member of the Rockford Area Historical Society, serving on its board for many years. He was inducted into the Rockford High School Sports Hall of Fame, and has been recognized for his community contributions by selection to the Pillars of Honor in Recognition Plaza at the Rockford Dam.
His hobby of photography grew into a personal mission. He will be remembered by many with a camera or two hanging from his neck. He felt that photos captured our history while making subjects realize their importance in that history. His nickname of “Mr. Rockford” was well deserved.