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Mudslide victim remembered as intelligent family man - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Mudslide victim remembered as intelligent family man

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We are learning more about the 18th victim of the Montecito mudslide, 87-year-old Joseph Francis Bleckel.

Bleckel was found Friday morning in his home in Romero Canyon. His nephews described him as a family man who was very intelligent and a world traveler.

Although Bleckel and his late wife, Margaret, did not have any children, they were always surrounded by family - 20 nieces and nephews, in fact.

"Basic idea is that he really was an adopted father," said Gerald Bleckel, a nephew. "God, they treated us so special. I really did feel like it was a special relationship."

Joe didn't have it easy growing up. His father died in World War I when he was an infant. Bleckel's mother, an immigrant from Italy, raised him and his two siblings.

"I mean, they came from destitute poverty in the 30s, Depression era," Gerald said. "He followed that American dream, joined the Navy in the Korean War, served there, used the G.I. Bill to get educated and became an engineer."

"He got a degree and he had a Masters in electrical engineering," said Jim Bleckel, a nephew. "He was a scientific guy, very methodical and precise in everything, very polite."

Joe's family said he lived a very good, full life. He loved to read, travel and watch the Dodgers.

Joe worked for Westinghouse in supply chain quality control before retiring at the age of 66.

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