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updated: 12/12/2013 7:30 PM

Elgin librarian remembered for genealogy passion

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  • William "Bill" Blohm

    William "Bill" Blohm


William "Bill" Blohm loved the challenge of genealogy and helping people find their roots and their families as a librarian at Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.

"The research process fascinated him, finding the answers to questions," his wife of 27 years, Carol Hemmerlein Blohm, said Thursday.

"He really loved working with people who came in, customers who were looking for their adoptive parents or their sister. That's what really excited him."

Blohm, 62, of Carpentersville, died unexpectedly on Thanksgiving Day at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin after feeling ill at work the day before, his wife said. Funeral services were held earlier this month.

He worked at the library for 17 years, most recently as reference librarian and manager of collection services.

Robert Moffett, Gail Borden's director of technical services, said Blohm had a true passion for genealogy,

When Moffett told Blohm that his mother was curious about the origins of her maiden name, Blohm set out to task immediately.

"You could just see his eyes just lit up. It was like a treasure hunt," Moffett said.

Blohm was born in Oak Park and earned a bachelor's degree from Valparaiso University. He worked as a mortgage banker until he lost his job in the early 1990s, his wife said.

That's when he decided to go back to school and earn a master's degree in library science from the University of Illinois.

Blohm also had a master's degree in Sacred Music from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, and was interim choir director and organist at Christ the Lord Lutheran Church in Elgin. He previously served as organist and choir director at Trinity Lutheran Church in Rolling Meadows.

"He had a great sense of humor, but about some subjects he could be very serious," his wife said. "He was extremely committed to his church, that's something he was serious about."

Blohm had an avid interest in all subjects, ranging from genealogy to religion, history and more, Moffett said.

"He was amazingly well read," Moffett said. "I would be in the staff room having lunch and the variety of books that he read was just completely stunning."

Blohm -- who named two of his cats after the author Samuel Dashiell Hammett -- loved playing bridge and enjoyed hiking and camping, his wife said. "He was a lot of fun to be around. I think that was part of his intelligence."

He also was a wonderful role model for her sons, she said.

"He really modeled to them what a good person was like. They really loved him."

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