Robert Leland 'Bob' Blomquist
Posted By: Errin Wilker (email)
Date: 9/4/2013 at 05:22:37
- Blind Man Hasn’t Lost Knack for Truck Repair -
Bob Blomquist doesn’t need his eyes to repair trucks. “I know the feel of them. I know the sound of them,” said Blomquist.
Blomquist is 56 years old. He is blind. But blindness hasn’t stopped the New Albin, Iowa, native from doing what he loves — repairing trucks. “You’ve got to be a jack-of-all-trades to work on a truck. You’ve got something different to work on each time. Anything can go wrong — brakes, carburetor, you name it,” he said.
And Blomquist could fix them all. “He could take apart a broken carburetor, fix it and put it back together — blind,” said his 35-year-old son David Blomquist.
Blomquist has two other sons: Barry; 33, and Richard, 31. His son David said Blomquist was “quite a mechanic in his day.” But Blomquist has been blind most of his career. “I’ve worked on trucks for 31 years, but I was blind 27 (of them),” Blomquist said.
Blomquist said he lost his sight in 1953 because of diabetes. However, Blomquist continued working on trucks and selling them. He said after losing his sight he continued traveling from farm to farm, with the aid of his son, selling trucks to farmers. “One farmer would tell us about another farmer who needed a truck. That’s how we did our business. And we sold trucks to all but three farmers in Chaseburg,” he said.
Blomquist came to La Crosse in 1943 after working as a mechanic for Northwest Airlines in Minneapolis, Minn., and Van Dalia, Ohio. Once in La Crosse, Blomquist worked as a mechanic for Dahl Ford for about a year and then went into business on his own, selling and repairing trucks.
After a year in business, Blomquist went blind. He has since dealt exclusively with Ford trucks. “I know them,” he said.
In 1968, Blomquist’s right leg was amputated from the knee down because of his diabetes. Then Blomquist stopped doing work underneath trucks, but he continued to do truck body work until 1973 when he was hospitalized. His business was closed for four years as he recovered. And he has had all five toes on his left foot amputated.
But Blomquist didn’t give up; in 1977 he started all over again. He now owns and operates Bob Blomquist Used Cars, 1833 West Ave. S. “I don’t work on the trucks like I used to, but I give the orders,” he said.
Blomquist still does some truck body work. “Every day I piddle around with something,” he said. “I’d go nuts if I didn’t.”
~La Crosse Tribune, La Crosse, WI, Hand-Dated 1979
Robert Leland 'Bob' Blomquist was born May 8, 1923, the son of Maurice G. Blomquist and Emma Ernestine Weymiller. He died February 24, 1981 in La Crosse, and is buried in the New Albin city cemetery.
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