Cyril J. Blaska

 

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Paul A. Rietbrock
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Burdette M. Blaska
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Tony Blaschka

 

'Corn King' Blaska was groundbreaking farmer

By DAVID SIDERS and NANCY BROME
of the Journal Sentinel staff

    Oconomowoc - Cyril J. Blaska helped develop the sweet corn harvester and the pea combine and was a pioneer in irrigation, winning him the nickname "Corn King."
    Blaska died Wednesday of congestive heart failure at Shorehaven Health Center. He was 87. 

    While serving in the 1940s and '50s on a state agriculture committee, Blaska helped develop a harvester that separated ears of corn from the stalk and a pea combine that was more agile than its predecessor, said his son, Thomas Blaska. 
    Blaska also was one of the first farmers in the state to irrigate crops, his son said.  "It turned out to be a pretty important step," Thomas Blaska said.  "He could guarantee his crops would never have drought." 
    Blaska's nickname came from a Madison reporter who ate sweet corn that Blaska had brought from his Watertown farm to a birthday party, his son said.  Cyril Blaska later emblazoned "Corn King" on his license plates. 
    Blaska was vice president of production and agricultural operations at Aunt Nellie's Foods Inc. in Clyman, Hillsboro and Lomira from 1961 to 1983, when he retired. During that time, he helped organize the Wisconsin Agri-Business Council, an association of farmers and businessmen, and served two years as council president. 
    He operated Cy and Grace Farms Inc. in Watertown, growing vegetables for processing. 
    Blaska was born in Sun Prairie and graduated from Sun Prairie High School, where he was a baseball and football standout, his son said. He later attended Whitewater Normal School, now the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. 
 

    As a young man, he worked as a plant manager at Oconomowoc Canning Co. His work there was interrupted by World War II, when he served in the Navy. 
    Blaska married Grace Counsell in 1947 here.  She died in 1990.  In addition to Thomas, of Atlanta, he is survived by two daughters, Ann (James) Balestrieri and Mary Blaska, both of Oconomowoc; a brother, Gregory
(Laura) of Sun Prairie; four sisters, Evelyn Owens, Lila LeBarro and Burdette Blaska, all of Sun Prairie, and Elaine Wood of McFarland; and eight grandchildren.
    Visitation will be from 9 a.m. Saturday until the services at 11 a.m. at St. Jerome Catholic Church, 211 S. Main St., Oconomowoc. Father John Yockey will officiate. Burial will be at St. Jerome Catholic Cemetery on Concord Road.  The Schmidt & Bartelt Notbohm-Kreutzmann Funeral Home, 121 S. Cross St., Oconomowoc, is handling the arrangements.  Memorials to the St. Jerome endowment fund were suggested. 

Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Aug. 31, 2001.

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