John Eli Blume, 93, Seattle Auto Dealer, Lived American Dream

Writing a family statement on the occasion of his grandfather's death, Keith Blume described the elder Blume's life as "the American dream that spanned the 20th Century."

Indeed, before he died Friday of lung disease at 93, John Eli Blume, who started his life as the youngest of nine children on a struggling Minnesota farm, had become a successful automobile dealer, civic leader, philanthropist and traveler.

The self-taught Mr. Blume never went beyond the eighth grade.

"When he was being born, snow was literally falling through the roof onto his mother and him," said his grandson Keith Blume, of Seattle. "He definitely embodied the rags-to-riches story."

Mr. Blume started at a small garage in Minnesota and moved to California with his wife in 1922.

In 1935, when he left California for Seattle, Mr. Blume owned two Chevrolet dealerships in the Los Angeles area. Here, he became owner of University Motors, later University Chevrolet, until 1969.

In 1988, Mr. Blume was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame for his contributions to the industry.

A 67-year member of Kiwanis International, Mr. Blume directed the same drive he had for work into community service.

"His philosophy was that he had been blessed, and when you are blessed, you have the responsibility to give back," Keith Blume said.

The elder Blume helped found the Hamilton Tallmadge House Senior Center in Seattle and the Tyee Club, a contributors' club for the University of Washington Husky football program.

Mr. Blume and his wife, Velma, also took many trips around the world. He supported several charities locally and globally, especially through the Catholic Church.

"All my life I've had the experience of having people say to me, `Gee, your dad is such a wonderful person.' And I'm 67 years old!" said his elder son, Jack K. Blume of Seattle.

Mr. Blume's other survivors include his wife, Velma; his son William Blume, Seattle; daughters-in-law Maralyn Blume and Lee Blume, both of Seattle; 10 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 7 tonight at St. Bridget's Church, 4900 N.E. 50th St., Seattle. The family requests that remembrances be made to the Hamilton Tallmadge House Senior Center, 5225 15th Ave. N.E., Seattle, WA 98105.