Emmett Blocher was a natural problem solver. Other people go to school to perfect their skills, and as a graduate of Samford University, Mr. Blocher himself did, too. But where most folks acquire their know-how from enlisting in the requisite lineup of classes, Emmett intuited a craftsman’s understanding of his work mostly from good old-fashioned industriousness. In other words, he wasn’t one to wait around for the answers to fall in his lap.
“He was just that kind of man,” reflects longtime friend and local attorney Roy Williams. “He was just the hardest working fella I knew. He could envision how a project was supposed to be just from his own mind, even in a time when people rely on computers to do their thinking for them.
“And he was a worker like you’ve never seen. He never asked any of his employees to do anything that he wouldn’t do himself, and he could outwork anybody — from daylight past dark. He may have been in his 70s, but you’d never have known it from the way he got in there and worked.”
Blocher passed away on Jan. 7 after a brief illness. He was 72 years old. The owner of Blocher Company, Inc., installing HVAC systems in projects both large and small was his business — but he went about it with an artist’s passion and eye for quality.
“I never met anybody else like him,” reflects retired homebuilder Jimmy Thomas, who knew Blocher for decades through overlapping business interests.
“He was one of the nicest people, and one of the best friends that I have ever had over the years. From the time I first started building houses, which is how I ended up knowing him, he was always such a stickler for doing things right. He was just an exceptionally nice fellow, and I can’t believe that he’s gone.”
Blocher made local friends who hail from all walks of life, but one thing they all agree on is his quiet intelligence. Known among friends for the kind of silent generosity that often goes unnoticed, he would often anonymously pick up the tab as away of saying “thank you” to law enforcement and military service members.
“He was very giving, and not in a way that seeks attention,” says local banker Raymond Williams, part of an informal group of friends who often ate lunch with Blocher at Grumpy’s Italian Grill. “I’ve seen him, numerous times, pay for the meals at a table of law enforcement or military guys — just ask the waitress for their bill, never say a word about it, and then leave. That’s just the kind of man he was.”
“He didn’t go looking for thank-yous,” says Cullman mayor Woody Jacobs — who, like Thomas, Roy Williams, and Raymond Williams, will serve as an honorary pallbearer at Saturday’s socially distanced memorial service for Blocher.
“What I really can always remember about Emmett is that he took so much pride in his work. His work was just meticulous. He was never going to halfway do something, and his work was so high-quality that it got to where, over the years, you could simply look at a job that had been done and just tell that it was his. He wasn’t a halfway kind of man.”
A graduate of Cullman High School, Blocher moved with his family from Indiana to Cullman sometime around 1960, when he was still a student. In an interesting twist, longtime friend Jim Cox, who also lived in Blocher’s Indiana hometown and already was friends with Blocher before he came to Alabama, also moved to Cullman with his family around the same time. Both men’s fathers had found work in separate Cullman industrial jobs, and both would end up remaining close friends throughout Blocher’s life.
Blocher married his high school sweetheart, fellow CHS graduate Marcia Blandenburg. They were married for 46 years. The Blochers had one child — a daughter, Natalie.
“One of the things that’s really a testament to what kind of man Emmett was is the devotion he had for his family,” says Roy Williams. “Natalie is hearing-impaired, and when Emmett and Marcia were still young, after Natalie was born, they moved to Denver — and stayed there for several years — so that Natalie could go to a special school there to give her an opportunity to flourish. I always admired that in him and Marcia both — to pick up your life in one place, to give their daughter the best chance in life to succeed.”
Funeral services Emmett Seimon Blocher will be held Saturday at Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church. Cullman Funeral Home is handling arrangements. Friends concerned about risks relating to COVID-19 may honor Mr. Blocher’s memory online by viewing a live stream of the service on the Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church Facebook page..
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Christ Covenant Church or your preferred charity.