Kenneth Blessing is now the retired Assistant State Superintendent and Administrator of the Division for Handicapped Children, Wisconsin State Department of Public Instruction. Born in Milwaukee in 1922, he attended Albert E. Kagel Elementary School, South Division High School and the former Milwaukee State Teachers College (now UW-M). While at SDHS he served as sports editor of the Cardinal Weekly and later at MSTC served in the same capacity. He was president of the February graduating class in 1941, chairman of the Class Commission, member of the National Honor Society and winner of a major letter in tennis and a numeral in football.
After serving in the USAAF in the states, England and France during WWII, he returned to MSTC where he received a degree in 1948 with a major in the education of exceptional children, minors in science, English and physical education. He graduated with honors having served as President of the Exceptional Division, was a member of Honor Ten and recipient of a major letter in tennis.
His teaching career began in Racine in 1948 where he was both a teacher of elementary and cognitively disabled children. In 1954 he was appointed to the DPI as a state supervisor of programs for the mentally retarded, physically handicapped and as a state psychologist. He was awarded an M.Ed. in School Psychology and Special Education in 1953. In the years 1960-62 he was a recipient of a federal fellowship in special education and he attended the UW-Madison during that period. In 1964 he received his doctorate and returned to the DPI as Director of the Bureau for Exceptional Children. In 1975, he was appointed the third Division Administrator in the division's history. Retiring in 1983, he continued work as a consultant for local schools, a hearing officer in due process appeals, a project consultant to the U.S. Office of Education and a co-administrator of Project Select for the UW-Stevens Point.
His research interests have been in the employability of the moderately retarded, follow-up studies on the adjustment of retarded adults, use of teacher aides in retarded classrooms and their effect on pupil achievement, psycholinguistic remediation on language deficits in elementary aged retarded and protocols of retarded children on projective tests. He has authored an extensive number of professional articles, curriculum guides and publications relating to the education of exceptional children and youth. He currently resides in Madison where he has recently completed 150 Years of Special Education History in Wisconsin which is in the process of being published. He continues to do volunteer work at United Way in the Volunteer Action Center. He and his wife recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary along with their four children, in-laws and six grandchildren. Leisure time is spent in extensive travel and at their northwoods cottage in Vilas County [Wisconsin].
Our train stands ready in Cheyenne's yards,
The bustling and jostling have ceased.
Everyone is settled and waiting
And I have been watching.
It is bleak and cold outside,
The soot-laden snow adds to the dreary aspect,
But it is not the scenery that chills me
Rather, my companions to my left.
Both wear the Order of the Purple Heart,
The P.F.C.'s hands are missing,
Instead, there is a round metal cap
Protruding from each olive drab sleeve.
The Sergeant's sleeve turns up at the elbow,
The forearm creases remain,
Both are quiet, lost in their reveries
And here is what remains.
Two youths younger than myself,
Having bled for their country.
Returning to weave a life anew
With hope and courage and faith.
They joke as they assist each other
Eating from their box lunches,
And if it comes to pass, Then God
May I respond as they.
Copyright (c) November 30, 1944 by Ken Blessing, Cheyenne, Wyoming
There is an agedness about France,
Its cobbled streets bespeak of time.
Many narrow winding rues margined
By hand hewn walls of stone and mortar.
Village churches in the usual squares,
Oh, could you but speak of that gone by.
Rust-colored founts which have bubbled forth
Thirst quenching draughts to generations.
Dusk finds gatherings in the cafes,
A monarch's banquet of vin and pain.
Or a tired workman hustling home
With his long unwrapped loaf 'neath his arm.
Rambling chateaus in wooded byways,
Signposts of wealth and authority.
Cast-iron statues, greened with the years,
Of boars and lovely flighty maidens.
Humble homes of masonry and brick,
Balconies of lacy-worked metal.
Creaking, slow swinging, cumbersome doors,
Gardens cared for by toil worn fingers.
This to me is France....
France of yesteryear, France today
And for the present....this is home.
Copyright (c) July 15, 1945 by Ken Blessing, Thiais, France
A Winter Paradox
January's expectancy is for cold and snow,
The split oak and birch make our Franklin stove glow,
Frigid winds off our lake creep in under our deck,
Stepping out from the warmth, one catches one's breath.
For near three decades now, this has been winter's pattern,
No variance in climate or depth of our snow,
A steady procession of deep frozen-like years,
With seldom a change in our season's expectancies.
This mid decade winter brought with it a paradox,
No hearth fire is needed, no logs needing split,
The decks and the hill steps are clear of snow mix,
The earth round the cabins is dull brown as in Fall.
Amazed by Mother Nature's flagrant imposition,
Of Spring or late Fall in a place of cold Winter,
The seasonal change a true paradoxical switch,
What else can you expect of the crone-like bitch?
Copyright (c) 1995 by Ken Blessing, Alma Lake, WI, January 1995
Thoughts on a Foggy Day at Alma Lake
Day mist on an August morn,
Plans aborn aborted.
Deck awash with last nite's storm,
Golfing schedule thwarted.
Chaise lounge and table wet with dew,
Set atop our new laid lumber.
Absent is our extended crew,
Enroute for home; and to renew.
Sounds we heard of joyous laughter,
Childish pleasures, cares no matter.
Summer's ending closes chatter,
Velvet fog engulfs the rafters.
Another fulfilled summer season,
Never lasting, stands to reason.
Mist, a fitting end to patter,
Covers Alma in its after.
Copyright (c) August 1995 by Ken Blessing, Alma Lake
A Stillness at Walden North
There is a stillness at the Deer Run compound,
No children or adult voices do resound,
The cabins are shuttered as is the garage,
Such unusual silence is like a mirage.
The boats are beached and the raft is on high,
Benches are stored, not exposed to the sky,
Everything silent in contrast to the summer just past,
The clamor and happy children's voices could not forever last.
The poet/philosopher has one question to ask,
If you cannot respond are you taken to task?
Without anyone there, should a birch tree fall,
Is the thud heard, or is there no sound at all?
Excerpts from Alma Lake Sketches-II (1996)
Copyright (c) 1996 by Ken Blessing
Tomorrow Is Easter
Tomorrow is Easter
The glorious Resurrection is sung,
Hallelujah from every urban church,
Hallelujah from every country spire.
And I will not be there...
Tomorrow is Easter
But I am a part of a troop movement,
One of many carried along
On two silver threads of steel.
So, I will not be there...
Last year I heard the choir,
Saw the lilies, the white vestments,
the incense burning,
Laughed at the funny little hat she wore.
Next year will be an Easter,
and the next, and the next,
For our absence has its meaning,
And I am glad...
On a troop train enroute to Gulfport
Copyright © 2000 by Ken Blessing
Following A 'Dear John' Letter
I built false dreams,
But fate took a hand
In smashing them,
And when I pray
My words fall uninspired.
Gulfport, Mississippi March 1944
Copyright © 2000 by Ken Blessing
Scott Field, St. Louis, I love you,
I came on Easter Sunday
A little bitter, a little hurt,
And marked by disillusionment.
Scott gave me six days escape,
Came back less bitter,
The hurt wore away,
And you took me to your bosom.
You gave me a chance to prove myself,
A little code, a little typing,
And an operator was made.
But you also gave me golden gifts,
Espirit des corps,
Freedom from ennui,
Good sound friendships.
St. Louis did her share,
A little night life,
A little morale,
To keep me from the morass of boredom.
Both of you were magnificent,
Gave me what I needed most,
A touch of home.
Scott Field...St Louis,
I love you both.
Enroute from St. Louis November 1944
Copyright © 2000 by Ken Blessing
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