Alta M. Blakely
Board Member Emerita
Hyde Park Historical Society
Alta M. Blakely, 92, died January 4 at her home at Montgomery Place. Alta was a superb English teacher at Hyde Park High and Kenwood Academy until she retired in the 1980s,,always mentioned among their "greats." While she dedicated herself unstintingly to teaching and inspired generations of her students, she did the same in her community and was the beloved matriarch of the Eckhoff-Farr-Blakely family, whose genealogical roots she so carefully recorded. She was an active and faithful member of the United Church of Hyde Park for sixty years. In 1991 she organized the first quilt show at the church, where it grew and has become a Hyde Park institution. For at least twenty years she served on the Board of the Hyde Park Historical Society and was in charge of volunteers. A longtime member of the League of Women Voters, she was always engaged in local and national political issues, volunteering as an election judge at the polls for many years and writing impassioned letters to politicians, the White House, and the Herald. She moved from her cherished Victorian home on Blackstone Avenue to Montgomery Place Retirement Community in 2000, where she enjoyed many warm friendships and for some years led the Poetry Club.
After the death of her second husband, Robert J. Blakely, Alta undertook the enormous job of completing and publishing his important book Earl B. Dickerson: A Voice of Freedom and Equality. This is the only book yet published on that great African American leader and Chicagoan, and without Alta's years-long efforts it would certainly have been lost.
She is survived by daughter and son-in-law Cara and Roger Keller of Hickory Hills, IL, daughter Raye Linda Farr of Bethesda, MD, son and daughter-in-law Stanley and Cecilia Farr of Crystal Lake, IL, sister and brother-in-law Eunice and Kermit Ericsson of Grandy, MN, brother and sister-in-law Philip and Alice Eckhoff of Forest Lake, MN. Also survived by three step-children, Dr. Susan Shurin of Washington DC, Craig Blakely (Mary) of St. Paul, MN, and Steven Blakely (Julia) of Arlington, VA, as well as 11 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and many loving nieces and nephews.
Sympathy cards may be sent to Alta's younger daughter.
6513 Millwood Road
Bethesda MD 20817