Edwin E. Blackler, 77
Edd Blackler, 77, passed away on Aug. 18, 2020, after a struggle to defeat pancreatic cancer. He died at his home south of Bigfork, in the company of his wife, Janet, and his loyal dog, Kenai.
Edd was born and raised in Missoula, proudly playing varsity basketball for the Sentinal Spartans. He attended the University of Montana where he earned his degree in vocal music performance. As a 17 year old, he won the Metropolitan Opera regional auditions. He was a member of the University of Montana Jubileers when they toured high schools all over Montana as ambassadors of the University and when the Jubileers went on a USO tour to Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Hawaii. One summer he toured on the county fair circuit with a group of U of MT singers called The Real National Bank, getting to know the backroads of Montana. He got his commercial pilot’s license from the Missoula VoTech in anticipation of a touring life, but love of Montana and in particular Bigfork, caused him to find his home here instead.
Edd was known by many in Bigfork and over the years he wore many different hats in the life of his beloved village. He first came to Bigfork as a young member of the Bigfork Summer Playhouse company. He appeared on stage over the course of eight or more seasons, especially remembered for singing the roles of Emile de Becque in “South Pacific” and Joe in “Show Boat.” His booming baritone voice did justice to “Some Enchanted Evening” and “Ol’ Man River.” After his Playhouse days, he served as vocal music teacher in grades K-12 in the Bigfork Public Schools. He was a real estate broker for a number of years, first working for Bigfork Realty, then as owner and broker of Bigfork Area Properties. He served a five-year stint as a detention officer for Flathead County before “retiring” to be a school bus driver for the Bigfork schools.
Edd was always very involved in the community of Bigfork. He served for many seasons as the announcer for the high school basketball and football games, singing the national anthem before each game, or mentoring his vocal music students to perform it. He sang at many weddings and funerals. He coached junior high boys basketball and started the men’ s intramural basketball program in Bigfork, as they played on Sunday afternoons in the high school gym. He founded and directed the Bigfork Community Chorus. He was part of a group that organized the Sunday concerts in Sliter Park. He was a volunteer fireman and served on the board of trustees for the Bigfork Fire Department. He was vice president of Bigfork Development Corporation when they built the current library building on the main street, and was a member of the Bigfork Steering Committee when they formulated the Bigfork Neighborhood Land Use Plan. He was one of three founders of the Bigfork Elves, along with Don Thomson and Frank Crain, who started the tradition of volunteers decorating Bigfork for Christmas with lights and greenery. He remained active as an Elf from its start until the end of his life, decorating the bridge. In the early years before lift trucks became a part of the process, he would shinny up the bridge girders to hang the lights and garland, while wife Janet watched in terror from below!
For many years, Edd and Janet had Tennessee Walking horses and shared many memorable pack trips into the wilderness with friends and fellow members of Backcountry Horsemen. Edd was very active in Backcountry Horsemen, serving as local and state president and as a national director. He headed the project to construct new corrals, water lines and feed bunks at the Owl Creek Trail Head at Holland Lake, as well as taking part in countless trail building projects for the Forest Service in the roadless backcountry. After retirement, Edd and Janet were able to realize some dreams, including an African safari, trips to explore South Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Patagonia and the rain forests of Brazil, islands of the South Pacific, and a family wedding and road trip in France.
Edd was interested in politics, running for state representative and state senator, although as a Democratic candidate he never was victorious in a campaign. He truly tried to practice his belief that we are all put on this earth to help each other, and he tried to be of service to his community in many ways.
Edd was preceded in death by his parents, Charles “Allen” and Dorothy Blackler of Missoula, and a brother, Samuel.
He is survived by his wife Janet of Bigfork, with whom he shared 48 years of marriage, love, adventures, and deep friendship, his sister Ethel Hardy of Bakersfield, California, his brother Donald Blackler of Missoula, as well as several nieces and nephews.
By Edd’s wishes, there will be no memorial ceremony.