Melvin Bloom passed away from COVID-19 on May 2, 2020 5 days after he celebrated his 94th birthday with his family via zoom.
Mel was born in a poor, multi-ethnic neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio April 27th, 1926 into a Jewish family. As a child he had a newspaper route and delivered telegrams to help support his family. He credited his older sister, Miriam and his Aunt, Zora, for a firm and loving upbringing. His religion played an important role all his life from temple membership to Shabbat meals with his family.
At age 18 he enlisted in the United States Army and was sent to Europe at the end of World War ll. He participated in rounding up SS officers and repatriating thousands of displaced people, many liberated from concentration camps.
This would be a defining experience in his life.
After the war he returned to Columbus to finish his degrees in teaching and Spanish at Ohio State University on the G.I. bill. At Spanish club he meet Ruthann Fischer. They married upon graduation. During the next four years they lived in Mexico City where he studied Latin-American history and they both taught school. Their oldest daughter was born during this time.
Mel and Ruth moved to San Francisco. He could have worked as a teacher, but this was the early 1950s, the time of McCarthyism, and Mel, extremely proud to be an American and an ardent believer in democracy, refused to take the loyalty oath. He believed that demanding a loyalty oath was in itself un-American. Instead he worked as a carpenter for a large department store. Their second and third daughters were born in San Francisco. After four years they moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to live close to Ruth’s parents, their children’s grandparents. There, Mel taught 4th and 5th grade students. In the summers he and the family went to Mexico where he studied and received his PhD in Latin American history.
In 1966 they moved to Stevens Point, Wisconsin where he became a professor of Spanish language and culture at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He loved teaching and was consistently rated as one of the university’s best teachers. He won a University award for excellence in teaching. Mel took students on humanitarian to trips to Central America. He and his family spent his sabbatical year in Seville, Spain. In the archives there he studied the original documents of Christopher Columbus’s voyages. He retired from teaching after 22 years.
Mel and his wife moved to Indianapolis in 2005 to be closer to family. Their grandchildren, great grandchildren and in fact all children affectionately called them Opa and Omi. He loved spending time with them regaling them with fanciful stories. As one of his granddaughters wrote “That's really how I knew him first: as a storyteller. For his kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, he crafted whole elaborate worlds of intersecting characters and storylines. Mystery stories, ghost stories, war stories, space adventure stories, stories about our mythical "Cousin Buzz" from Jackson Hole, WY. He kept us entertained for hours.”
He took a deep interest in all young people asking them about their studies, plans for future and their opinions on many topics.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Ruth.
They shared a close and devoted love and many interests: teaching, bird watching and social issues (open housing, peace education during the Cold War, draft counseling during the Vietnam war). He was a school board member, tutored prisoners, helped start a citywide bus service in Stevens Point, and started a union for university professors. The two also enjoyed travel, their senior group, dancing, the out-of-doors, learning new languages, volunteering and making new friends. They kept in touch with family and friends all over the United States and the world. Their greatest joy was spending time with family.
After his wife passed away Mel continued to live in their home independently. His daughters lived nearby and talked to him and saw him nearly everyday. His brain was very sharp to the last. He liked crossword puzzles and discussing current events and books. He was reading “How to Change Your Mind”, “The Invention of Nature”, stories by P. G. Wodehouse, a book of Yiddish humor and Sherlock Holmes mysteries when he became ill. Our family was fortunate to able to talk to him via zoom several times while he was in the hospital. His spirit was always positive and caring.
Mel leaves behind three children: Ellen Marcus (Bob), Sue Steffen (Gary), and Jackie Bloom (Paul); eight grandchildren: Emily (Dan), Laura (Zach), David, Matt, Scott, Michael, Steve (Kristin, great grandchildren Jack and James), Jennifer (Steven, great grandchildren Riley, Eden, Frankie, Casey and Charlie), niece Elaine Turganica and friend Jackie Hayden.
He passed away peacefully ready to join his Ruth. Their ashes will be mingled and spread at their favorite natural area where they had enjoyed so many hours.
He touched many lives. He was so loving and so deeply loved. He leaves a huge hole in our lives to be filled with wonderful memories. We miss him greatly.
A memorial will be arranged in the future.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Melvin Bloom, please visit our floral store.