Deceased: February 15, 2009
Alumni survivors: Mr. D. Rodney Bluhm II ’62 (Sibling)
Hank Bluhm, a longtime supervisor in the federal civil service, died on Feb. 17, 2009 from a form of emphysema. He had retired early from government, in 1994, following a devastating accident at his home in Annandale, VA that affected his health until his death.
Hank was born in Pennsylvania, and moved to Cedar Falls, IA for high school. After Carleton, he enrolled in the history graduate program at University of Virginia, but a mishandled student deferment soon led to Officer Candidate School in the U.S. Army, and two years as a lieutenant training troops at Ft. Dix, NJ. He then returned to UVA, receiving his master’s in history.
Instead of a career in teaching, Hank took a position with the U.S. Civil Service Commission in Washington, later the Office of Personnel Management, and assumed various supervisory positions during a successful 28-year career. Much of his work involved teaching and management preparation, as well as recruiting, hiring and training.
In his final office, he headed the law enforcement office overseeing suitability of political appointees for Schedule C positions. Always known for his genial manner and wit, sometimes directed at himself, Hank proudly used a coffee cup at work with “bureaucrat” printed in large letters.
Hank had two sons from a 12-year first marriage, and another son with his second wife, Glenda, whom he married in 1980. In 1994, Hank fell down the basement stairs of his Annandale house, suffering severe neck, head and related injuries that required nearly two years of hospitalization and rehabilitation. He also aggravated a shoulder injury that had ended his wrestling career at Carleton years earlier.
Instead of returning to work, Hank took early retirement and helped raise his third son. A talented editor, he enjoyed assisting family with writing projects. He impressed friends and family with his humor, and his wide-ranging knowledge on numerous topics. “He was the king of trivia games,” a family member said.
During his last 15 years, he was able to pursue his lifelong passion for history, and particularly the Civil War, visiting numerous Civil War sites. He is buried at National Battlefield Park, at the scene of two of the war’s major conflicts.
“Hank loved Carleton and his time there. He respected his classmates. He talked about Carleton frequently,” Glenda Bluhm recalled. “He would have greatly enjoyed being there for the 50th reunion.”