V. Earl Blomberg, `Singing Grocer' Who Owned Garden Patch, Dies
Seattle Times Staff Reporter
V. Earl Blomberg's career was the grocery business, but his ministry was touching the lives of others.
So say the children of the "singing grocer" - a tall, affable Swede who, for 40 years with his wife, Helen, ran Earl's Garden Patch at 2352 Eastlake Ave. E.
"He opened the store in the depths of the Depression, where a fruit-and-vegetable stand had been," said his daughter, Gail Hendrickson of Seattle.
Hendrickson read from a eulogy she and her brother Harvey Blomberg of Portland wrote for the memorial service Wednesday. Mr. Blomberg died of heart-lung disease Friday, Dec. 15, at age 84.
"While the store was a business that supported the family, it was more," she read. "For many, it became a haven, a safe place to share pain and joy with Earl. For others it was a place of hospitality as he offered refreshment for salesmen, delivery-truck drivers and the lonely. For still others, it was a place of growth, as Earl became the dad-in-residence for the young people of the neighborhood."
Mr. Blomberg, whose songs or laughter could be heard throughout the store, had an upbeat attitude and a staunch faith since childhood.
Born on Seattle's Capitol Hill, this third-generation member of Gethsemane Lutheran Church dreamed of being an architect. But his father's death when the lad was a teen cut short his dreams. He went to work for a grocer to support his mother and sisters.
Liking the business, he opened his own store in 1933. He sold quality items and was proud to offer Christmas trees, rain or snow, in the parking lot every holiday season. "He insisted on only the best trees," his daughter said. "He would buy certain trees for special customers year after year."
His wife, Helen, who died in 1993, kept the books and made ice cream every Tuesday as a special feature.
When he wasn't at the store, Mr. Blomberg served on church committees. At the time of his death, he was on the board of Columbia Nursing Home.
He sold the store in 1973 and moved to tiny Center Island in the San Juans, where he designed and built a retirement home, hauling most of the materials himself via his 22-foot boat - the island being inaccessible except by private boat. The would-be architect already had designed and built the family home in Seattle and made many improvements to his store.
"They just had a wonderful life, and a wonderful marriage for 55 years," his daughter said. "They supported each other in the most beautiful ways. It was an example for us all."
Other survivors include his son Charles Blomberg of San Diego, Calif.; his sister, Ruth Pocock of Seattle; and four grandchildren. Remembrances may go to Gethsemane Lutheran Church, 911 Stewart St., Seattle, WA 98101.
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