James Norman Blake

James Norman Blake passed away peacefully on January 30th at the age of 87. He died from complications of a stroke, in Prescott, AZ, after spending his 86th Christmas with family.


Norm was an amazing man and was fortunate to have had a wonderfully interesting life. He was born into modest circumstances in Lodi, NJ to Scottish immigrant parents, Jean and Sandy Blake. Norm was born and raised during the great depression. After graduating from Lodi High School he enlisted in the Navy. During the Korean War, Norm served as a US Naval Swim Instructor at Bainbridge, MD. He was also commissioned on The Quillback, a US Navy submarine based in Key West, FL. After his stint in the Navy, Norm attended the University of Virginia and swam competitively for the Cavaliers. He graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering.  He also completed his PE, professional engineering certificate and was a member of Theta Tau, a professional engineering society.


Norm met and married the love of his life, Joan Ulrickson, on August 9, 1958. Norm took engineering jobs in Virginia, Ohio and Massachusetts before deciding to settle down in Mahwah, NJ, where they picked their lot and built their dream home. They raised four smart and beautiful children and lived happily for more than 50 years in that same home. Norm’s engineering jobs took him to several New York City companies including Stone and Webster, Unilever and even a stint in Kuwait.


His hobbies and passions included annual fishing trips to the Beaverkill, where he summered as a child. He kept a summer home in Westhampton and continued swimming, a lifelong passion, three days a week at the Wyckoff YMCA, up until the month of his passing.  He volunteered at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, NJ and for Meals on Wheels in Mahwah, NJ. 


His beloved wife, Joan Blake and his son, Bruce Blake, predeceased Norm. His sisters, Janet Dalio of East Hampton, NY and Isabel Paisley, of Paramus, NJ survive him. Three children survive Norm: Doug Blake (and his wife Derry) of Ramsey, NJ, Laura Gangemi (and her husband Ed) of Rumson, NJ and Jennifer Woods (and her husband Bo) of Prescott, AZ. “Grandpa” will be greatly missed by his grandchildren Sarahanne (and her husband Brent Alexander), Darrin, Tyler, Ryan, Marco, Matteo, Chessa and Cash.


The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, you please consider gifts to the John Carty Scholarship Fund, 9 Oweno Road, Mahwah, NJ 07430. Visitation will be at Vander Plaat Funeral Home, www.vpfh.com, 257 Godwin Avenue, Wyckoff, NJ 07481, Tuesday, February 6th from 5-7pm. Funeral Services will be on Wednesday, February 7th, 10:30am at Vander Plaat Funeral Home with the burial at Redeemer Cemetery, Mahwah, NJ. A reception immediately following the funeral services will be held at Aldo’s Restaurant in Wyckoff, NJ.