In Memory

Steven "Steve" Blechman, 2003

Steven Steve Blechman, 2003

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08/18/21 06:52 PM #1    

Christine "Chris" Elke (Lyng)

Just missing you, Bill!

Such memories from grade school - Churchill Elementary and on!

Hugs, Chris

08/31/21 11:18 PM #2    

Jeffrey "Jeff" Ortmann

   Steve "The Iceman" Blechman was my best friend. We first met in 1956 when he moved into the house across the street from me on Mildred Ave., in a sub division of Glen Ellyn, near the intersection of Bloomingdale and St. Charles Roads. When we first met, I approached him in front of his house and asked, "What are you doing?" as he was shoveling rocks into his red Chicken of the Sea wagon, dumping them out, and filling it back up repeatedly. He replied, "Nuttin', do you want to help?" We became best friends from that moment on.                                                                                                                                                        We went to Forest Glen for kindergarten, attented Churchill Elementary for grades 1 - 6, (what is now) Hadley Jr. High for 2 years, and Glenbard West through graduation in 1970. During those formative years we were inseparable. Our daily routine consisted of breakfast, softball or wiffleball in the spring and summer, football in the fall, and pond hockey in the winter, lunch, and more of the same until dinner. After that, tetherball, basketball, 4-square, or kick the can occupied our evenings. We had countless sleepovers, built 'complex' forts around various construction sites in our neighborhood and in a tunnel under the RR tracks, put on neighborhood talent shows, organized clubs, painted a football white with shoe polish strung up spotlights, and held a night football game in his hilly backyard. At one time, we constructed an indoor floor hockey rink in his basement for our wooden puck, hockey sticks, and roller skates surrounded by several couches and boxes & crates of various merchandise from 'Blechman's Department Store', which was gutted and looted during the Chicago West Side Riot of July, 1966. I attended Steve's bar mitzvah and temple many times, as he accompanied me at my Lutheran church. Among our favorite weekly activities was wrestling on his couch every Friday night while watching the Big Bill Hill Show on ch. 26. Steve and I experienced and endured 4 years as teammates on the Glenbard West football and wrestling teams. We had a wonderful childhood!                                                                                                                                                               After HS Steve attended SIU in Carbondale, IL. I visited him a few times while he was there and after he graduated and was managing a bar, "The Pink Pillow", there. There was a lot of partying going on in Carbondale in the 70's! In January durring the blizard of 1979, we became roommates in an old (haunted) farmhouse - one of the oldest properties in DuPage County at the time - down the road from the Morton Manor in West Chicago. I was in between teaching jobs - 5 yrs. elementary in Carol Stream, getting my MA in Gifted Education, and about to embark on my 34 year teaching career in gifted ed. in Romeoville/Bollingbrook. For 1 year I worked with Steve in his capacity as Food & Beverage Director at McCormick Inn. This was one of the most unique and exciting years I have ever spent in my near 70 years. The money was great, almost twice my Carol Stream teacher salary - and cash! But as the Iceman's "preferred" tuxedoed room service and catering waiter, and bartender, I had some plum assignments and once-in-a-lifetime experiences while on duty. Steve would take a call and say, "Ort, go take care of ____ in room ___on____floor". I'd knock on the door and say, "Room Service", and out would appear clients such as Ray Nitschke, Pete Rose, Walter Payton, Pres. Gerald Ford,  CEO of Wilson Sporting Goods, Arkansas Razorbacks alumni party, doctors, lawyers, Autoshow models, etc, On one occassion, while working the overnight shift, Steve came into our kitchen area and said, "Ort, you got to go see who is in the plaza lobby." When I arrived, it was Stevie Wonder, alone, playing the grand piano in the lobby. Wow! But his favorite and very frequent client was Muhammad Ali. Quite often I would wander into the hotel restaurant and there would be "The Champ", with his entourage, bearhugging Steve, joking about his breakfast, and rubbing his bald head saying, "There you go, take that, Mr. Room Service Manager!" That's an image I can never forget!               Following that unforgetable year in West Chicago, Steve and I remained in contact, but leading different lives. Steve continued in the Food & Beverage business, acting as chef, manager, and F&B director for several establishments including The Terrace, a breakfast/lunch catering business in Skokie, and opening up his own gourmet restaurant in Crystal  Lake - which unfortunately folded very early due to his adage, "Location, location, location!" That demoralizing defeat was the beginning of a heartbreaking end for Steve.       I'm sorry this is so long, but nowhere else is there a legacy of one of the most talented, generous, and creative individuals I have ever met. I think of The Iceman quite often.

09/01/21 03:34 PM #3    

Ralph Klein

Jeff - I enjoyed reading your comments about Steve (Iceman). He was a great guy. I am glad to have had the opportunity to know him even though it was for a short 4 years. Very sad he left us so early as a young  man. He was a bull on the football field and probably the strongest guy on the team.....built like an ox. He was very fortunate to have had a great friend like you. See you soon...

09/01/21 10:12 PM #4    

Jean "Frosty" Pengelly (Lay)

Wow Jeff. I'm so glad you posted this. What amazing memories. Such a sad loss. Thanks for posting this. 

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