June 1, 2013 at 4:30 pm

University Mourns Professor Gene Blocker (1937 – 2013)

Dr. Harry Eugene “Gene” Blocker, former member of the Classics & World Religions Department and the Philosophy Department, passed away on April 12, 2013, after a long battle with cancer.

Dr. Harry Eugene Blocker

Dr. Harry Eugene Blocker

A native of Texas, he earned a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Chicago in 1960 and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley in 1966. After short-term teaching positions in Scotland, Sierra Leone, and Illinois, he came to the Philosophy Department at Ohio University in 1972 as an aesthetician, but his interests were always broader than any one field. His experience of many cultures: Africa, China, Japan, as well as the United States, made him a historian of international thought.

During the 1980s he served as chair of the Philosophy Department. In 1998 he retired from his previous teaching activities, and eventually transferred most of his teaching (part-time on campus and online) to the Classics & World Religions Department. His courses on African thought and Taoism were important in the breadth of the world religions emphasis.

Gene was a vigorous person with an expansive personality. His delight in teaching and meeting people was contagious, as was his performance in jazz groups–he was one of the founders of the Athens Dixieland Jazz Band back in the 1970s. He was a prolific author. Among his many books are The Metaphysics of Absurdity, Contemporary Philosophy of Art, Contextualizing Aesthetics: From Plato to Lyotard, and Fundamentals of Philosophy (which went through six editions). He also contributed numerous articles and book reviews to a wide range of scholarly journals.

Gene is survived by his wife Dr. Jennifer M. Jeffers (a professor of English at Cleveland State University), their two sons, Samuel Reid Jeffers Blocker and Beckett Rhiannon Jeffers Blocker, as well as his daughter from an earlier marriage, Forrest Blocker, and grandchild Maxwell Blocker; a sister, Nonnie Sue Dierck, and a brother, John Blocker.

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