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A Few Thoughts About My Dad, Stanley Blitz (1928-2011)

My father and I when he was taller than me

I had originally planned on writing this last week when my father passed away after a two and a half year battle with Alzheimer’s.  I’ve rewritten this several times and hope, that if nothing else, you will get a glimpse of not only how awesome my father was, but also how fortunate that I was to have had him.

My father Stanley Blitz truly was a special and unique person.

He could draw people in, like no one else.  He was kind and charitable; sweet and funny.  He loved his family and friends and liked nothing more than be surrounded by them, spreading his charm and kindness.

As I noted in his eulogy, one of my father’s most admirable and remarkable traits is that I never heard him say an ill word about anyone.  Both in his business and his personal life, he never took any disappointment or frustration as a personal attack.

My dad grew up at a time when the world was much smaller.  Visits to family in New York usually meant spending time with their neighbors and their cousin, Milton Berle.

Years later in Chicago, my father worked as Playboy Magazine‘s first advertising manager.

Among the folks that he rubbed elbows with at the time were Bettie Page, Shel Silverstein, Jack Cole and Hef, himself.

Prettier than Hefner, Silverstein and Cole.

My father joked that he and Hefner stopped getting along when Hef didn’t use my dad’s idea for using state birds as the centerfold.  Apparently Hefner thought that naked women sell better.

He was probably right.

My dad decided to move East, and worked for Philco Electronics.

He was a salesman, selling televisions directly to retailers.

There, he worked with George McFarland.

As a child, McFarland was a bit of a movie star.

He went by the nickname of Spanky.

My father was also a talented artist, studying at both the Boston Museum School and Massachusetts Art College. 

While he often dismissed my interest in pursuing comics, in retrospect I think it came from his own disappointment.

He met with Al Capp and spoke with him regarding an opportunity to be his assistant, but unfortunately, Capp wasn’t looking for one.  My father recalled to me on several occasions that Capp ran into him several years later and remembering him, Capp introduced him to his friends as an “incredibly talented artist.”

I have no reason to doubt this story for the single reason that my dad was never one who tried to impress anyone or twist the truth to make himself look better.

Capp won the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Award in 1947 for Cartoonist of the Year for his work on his comic strip Li’l Abner.

My father created the previously unseen comic strip, Jack Jockstrap.

From the time I was a young kid, I loved comics and I drew.

Those two factors combined with my dad’s first name, created quite a reaction from my comic-loving elementary school friends, who naturally assumed that “Stanley” was in fact, “Stan Lee.”

It’s nearly impossible to encapsulate or articulate how my dad influenced virtually every aspect of my life.  He loved his family unconditionally, struggled losing two children and lived his life by two mantras: Don’t worry about things you can’t change and Do for people because you want to, not because you expect anything in return.

My father’s legacy is a challenge to live up to.  He faced life’s challenges with a smile and was the smartest man I ever knew.

This morning, my father will have been gone for two weeks.

The loss of him is still incredibly surreal and my heart still feels heavy.  If I can be half the man my father was, I’ll be a success.

Dad, I miss you and love you.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Walter Greatshell

    March 7, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    That was beautiful, Stefan. Sounds like your dad was a sweet guy, who left you with a lot of great memories. What more can any of us hope for?

  2. Mike

    March 7, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Sorry for the loss of what sounds like a really awesome dad. You're lucky to have had one of those. All of the people he met, the things he saw, what great stories. The only moderately cool story my dad ever told was about getting drunk in an airport bar with Jamie Farr.

  3. Jason

    March 8, 2011 at 3:17 am

    Your Dad sounds like he was one awesome and talented dude Stefan. I lost my Father nine years ago this coming May, and I know how rough it is… it's definitely the most difficult thing I've ever had to deal with but, it "does" get easier as the years go by (I really didn't see how it could back then).

    I miss him every day, think about him every day but, the relentless emptiness and sadness that I first felt when he was gone, thankfully subsided.

    "If I can be half the man my father was, I'll be a success" <- I've said that exact same thing almost every day of my adult life, and I have no doubt that you will live up to whom your Father always thought you could become. I didn't have the confidence that I would when I lost my Father because I felt he still had way too much to teach me, that he wasn't able to… but 9 years later, I think I may have actually accomplished that, and you will too!

    Just remember, before you do something to ask yourself W.W.M.D.D. (What would my Dad do?) and you'll always kick ass in life.

    Take care fellow geek!

  4. Vincent Waller

    March 8, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Well Said.

  5. mooshcala

    March 10, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    I didn't want to "like" this when you posted it to Facebook because that would have been odd, but it is a wonderful glimpse into your father's history and the kind of man he was. I wish I could have met him. He must have had great stories to tell.

  6. Anonymous

    March 16, 2011 at 7:15 am

    A wonderful tribute to a true ray of sunshine, you did him justice Stefan. My heart goes out you to you, Debbie and Lizzie. He's a tough act to follow.

  7. Michael Lang

    March 18, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Stefan, reading your loving and playful tribute to your dad, I could see him, hear his voice and recall times with him that exemplified the qualities you describe. From when I was little until the last time I saw your Dad, about 10 years ago, I remember the feeling of anticipation, the eagerness to listen to his stories and jokes. Thank you for this wonderful tribute.

  8. Tootse

    February 21, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Great tribute…he would be proud.

  9. Tony Marro

    September 28, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    I just found this. I remember your dad very well from Format. We were in the same bldg at 725 Branch Ave. I visited regularly with him in his place as he did often in mine. Stanley was was of the kindest and most gentle of men. he always had a joke and a smile and his wry sense of humor matched mine perfectly. he is fondly remembered and thought of often.

    • Stefan Blitz

      September 28, 2017 at 2:58 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, Mr. Marro.

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