Headstones at Arlington National Cemetery
Archive photo

Retired Master Sgt. Joe Blede

Retired Master Sgt. Joe Blede, 73, of Carbondale, Kansas, passed away peacefully at Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka Monday evening, Nov. 30, 2020. Memorial Services will be held at a later date due to COVID-19. 

Robert Joe Blede was born July 13, 1947, in North Platte, Nebraska, the youngest child of Harlan Edgar and Della B. (Lewis) Blede. He was named after his uncle Joe George Lewis. As a young child, Joe lived in Brady, Nebraska, and helped at the Blede homestead in Brady. In 1955, when Joe was eight years old, he moved with his parents, brother, and sister to a farm near Overbrook, Kansas. Joe helped with his daily farm chores and attended school in Overbook, graduating from Overbrook High School with the Class of 1965.

After graduation, Joe enlisted in the United States Navy on May 10, 1966, serving as an E-5 until Feb. 15, 1970. After returning from the service, Joe attended Kansas State Teachers College in Emporia, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in business in 1974.

Joe then returned to the service, serving in the Army National Guard as an E-5 from August 10, 1976 to July 21, 1978. He then transferred to the Kansas Air National Guard and retired as an E-7 on August 9, 1992. While in the Air National Guard, Joe served as a member of the 190th ARW Security Forces and as a customs inspector in Topeka with the 190th Air Refueling Wing, also known as the “Kansas Coyotes.” His nickname was “G.I. Joe.” He was very proud to have served as an E-5 in three different branches of the United States military.

After his military retirement, he was employed as a resource protection officer for a number of years at the 190th Forbes Field facilities.

Joe married Karen Ranee (Vail) Gleason on July 12, 1990, at the Pomona Lake Dam Outlook in Vassar, Kansas. Joe was a farmer and enjoyed watching the many deer and coyotes on his property. He was especially proud of his many John Deere tractors over the years. Joe also enjoyed driving his 2010 Dodge Challenger R/T, playing the lottery, and going to the casino. He was notorious among his family for his good luck. Those who truly knew Joe knew he was a very giving person. Joe had lived in Carbondale for 35 plus years.

Joe was preceded in death by his parents, Harlan and Della Blede; brother, Harlan Lewis Blede; and sister Catherine Lou (Blede) Turner.

Joe is survived by Karen Blede; step-son Kirk Gleason of Neodesha; two nieces, Lisa (Blede) Dye of Overland Park, and Ann (Turner) O’Brien of Burnsville, North Carolina; two nephews, Mike Blede of Raymore, Missouri, and Greg Turner of Gainesville, Florida; as well as six cousins.

Joe will be cremated and a private burial will be held at the Washington Creek Cemetery in Douglas County, Kansas, next to his parents, brother, and sister.