Carl Joseph Blackwell, age 85 passed away peacefully after a long battle with Alzheimer’s on April 14, 2020. He was born in 1934 in Paterson, NJ the oldest son of Carl Andrew & Veronica Margaret (Vera). Carl was raised in Totowa, NJ and graduated from Passaic Valley High School in Little Falls, NJ where he was known for his athletic skills on the basketball court, dance skills, and his sharp style of dress. He served in the US Army from 1953-1955 training as a paratrooper and testing bombs stateside. In 1960, he met his Little Dutch Girl down the shore, in a little bar in Point Pleasant, NJ. Two years later he married Johanna Maria Barbara (Marie), who preceded his death in 2014 after 52 years of marital bliss. Carl & Marie provided a fairytale life for their two daughters in Oak Ridge, NJ. They never fought and Carl mastered the art of reverse psychology for his girls.
Carl was a salesman selling various products throughout his life, from appliances, dog food, pasta and even ice cream. He retired in 1998 as VP of Sidari Corporation.
Carl will be remembered for his easygoing nature. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body and never raised his voice. He had at least six memorable characteristics everyone will remember. He liked to tease, he could dance & play ball, was always tan, had an artistic/creative style, enjoyed clothes, landscaping, cooking & he especially loved food & sweets.
Carl had many talents but Marie wouldn’t let him fix mechanical or technical issues. She would say Carl, please just call a professional but when it came to designing & shopping, she would give him full reign and he always valued her input. They complimented each other beautifully. Carl played his lottery numbers in both NJ & NY and later FL. Marie’s frugalness taught him the art of budgeting and patience for a sale. They both loved playing cards, dominoes, dancing, volunteering and spending time with good friends and family.
Carl was always joking and telling wild stories. You always wondered if he was speaking the truth or pulling your leg. His truths were just as unbelievable as his tall tales. Even his offspring and grandchildren were wary of his stories looking to Marie for confirmation if his words were fiction or non-fiction.
Carl played many sports growing up. He especially loved basketball, even though he was on the short side, he would spend hours practice shooting hoops and his specialty was the 3 pointers. He was a great dancer and even as a senior citizen continued to play on a men’s softball league. During retirement, he would walk the beach twice a day and went to the gym daily. He was blessed with good genes because even in his 80’s he never looked his age. He always loved to point that out.
Carl was like the actor George Hamilton; he always had a tan. Carl’s idea of relaxing was tanning. In NJ, in the humid summer, he would tan with an osculating fan next to him. In AZ, he could be found on his older daughter’s driveway in the middle of July. In Florida, you could find him in between walks, on his beach perched on his lawn chair next to the green life guard stand tanning. ln his last home in AZ, he would be found every morning and afternoon sunning himself sound asleep in the courtyard year-round. Carl was always joking he didn’t want to look pale in front of the camera since the paparazzi followed him everywhere.
His secretary Donna, called him Spiffy because he always wore the perfect amount of cologne, dressed to the nines with a colorful flair. His wardrobe consisted of hundreds of designer suits, dress shirts along with matching ties, bow ties, hankies, belts & suspenders that he had collected over the years when he was in NJ. When it was time to retire to Sarasota, Florida much to Carl’s dismay, Marie forced him to unload all of his designer suits except two and a few accessories. He tried to keep them in the family by offering them to his two sons in laws, but they didn’t wear the same size or have his taste in clothing. But once Carl got to Florida, he found a new addiction and fell in love with Polo shirts. Carl loved to shop and Marie hated it. Carl would often go clothes shopping with Marie, so he could help her create outfits. So, if he couldn’t shop for himself, he could buy for Marie.
In fact, after Marie passed his younger daughter limited him to one suitcase of clothes. It took Carl hours to decide between hundreds of Polo’s, and which lucky few would make the journey to WA. He had about 30 of every shade of the rainbow with a different color stripes making each one slightly different. The thrift store must have thought he had stock in Polo where they were donated.
Over the years Carl made a game of seeing how many articles of clothing or plants he could sneak home without Marie’s knowledge. Carl had lots of time to shop as a salesman, and he would bide his time waiting for the deals. In NJ, NY, & Florida the sales people knew him by name, and his sweet spot for purchasing clothing & plants. He would rush home and hide clothing in the hamper or closet so he could say it was old or plant it before Marie got home from work. When Marie caught him in the act and he had to come clean, it was followed by boasting on the great steal of a deal he had found and of course he couldn’t pass it up. When they moved to Florida and had a condo without a yard that didn’t stop Carl from landscaping. He would sneak plants onto the property; not from Maria but from the HOA. Other residents complained -not about what he was planting but why wasn’t their area as beautiful. Pretty soon word got out, and the Condo Association let it slide. The landscaper was asking Carl for planting tips, and neighbors were purchasing plants on Carl’s advice and giving him new locations for his planting visions.
Marie was blessed to have a man that was well groomed, a snappy dresser, a bargain shopper, landscaper, and yes even helped clean. Carl ironed his own dress shirts every evening, enjoyed cleaning floors, and religiously washed and waxed all cars in the driveway each weekend.
And yes, not only did he BBQ rain, shine & snow but he enjoyed cooking in general. He made delicious dishes and yummy sides & always with a splash of color because he said good meals begin with the presentation. His meals were complimented with Marie’s baking, and she would end up cleaning up the mess he also created. Carl not only liked making a meal but eating as well. His son in law Mark joked that Carl & Marie were still eating one meal and already planning the next.
Till the end, Carl loved to eat. He loved his food. When he stopped eating everyone knew he was ready to be with the Lord and his beloved wife Marie. We are all so thankful that he is in Heaven with his better half and he is once again whole especially with all his memories restored. He is back to the Carl we all will miss & love.
Carl is survived by his daughters Andrea (Dan) Sydow of Goodyear, AZ and Danielle (Mark) VonGunten of Shoreline, WA and five grandchildren Devlin Chase Sydow, Piper Jane VonGunten, Jesiah Colt Sydow, Scarlett Johanna VonGunten & Katriona Carlee Sydow. His brother Tommy (Jeannette) Blackwell of Ringwood, NJ, sister Cheryl (Tom) Hoover of York, PA and his five nieces & their families and multiple cousins.
Carl received excellent loving care in his final years at The Groves in Goodyear, AZ. The family is so grateful for all the love and support that they have provided for him over the last 5+ years as well as Haven Hospice for their compassion & assistance to Carl both times that he was in their care.
Carl is being cremated at Regency Mortuary and his daughters will in the near future release his ashes in front of his beach in Siesta Key at the same coordinates as his Marie.