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BLAUER John and Laura Blauer, both 91 years old and married for 67 years, died during the same week in November.

Laura Smith Blauer died on Nov. 9, 2014, at Haven Hospice in Gainesville, Fla., of complications from Alzheimers. Laura Smith was born on July 18, 1923, in Independence, Mo., the only child of Beulah Nancy Blair and Claude Carson Smith. She spent her childhood in Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas and graduated from Prairie Grove High School (Ark.) in 1939. Laura's family moved to Jacksonville, Fla., in 1942, and she worked as a secretary.

John Maurice Blauer died on Nov. 15, 2014, at North Florida Regional Medical Center in Gainesville, Fla., of pneumonia. John was born on Aug. 27, 1923, in Mountain Top, Pa., the eldest son of Catherine Hughes and John Emlyn Blower. His family later moved to Morris Run, Pa., where John graduated from high school. John joined the army in 1942 and became a machine gunner in Co. F, 508th Paratroop Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. John's unit was dropped behind German lines in the early morning hours of D-Day. He fought in Normandy for a month before being wounded and evacuated to England. John rejoined Co. F in France in December 1944 and within hours was ordered to Belgium for what became the Battle of the Bulge. John was awarded three Bronze Battle Stars, the Purple Heart and other citations, and his war service was chronicled by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Project at UF. John was the last survivor of his band of brothers.

After the war, John met Laura while visiting Jacksonville, and they married four months later on March 8, 1947. John and Laura lived in Gainesville while John earned his B.S. in Business Administration at the University of Florida. In 1951 they returned to Jacksonville where they raised their family. Early in their marriage, John worked in various sales jobs. In the early 1960s, John became a bookman and owned, over the next three decades, The Old Book Store, The Downtown Book Shop, The San Jose Bookstore and The San Marco Bookstore. He became an expert in rare books, maps, documents and prints and had clients all over the country. Laura worked beside John in a business they both loved. In 2009, they moved to Gainesville to be near family.

John and Laura are survived by their four children: Connie (Richard Holzinger), Kay (Sergio Lopez), Mike, and Robert (Cindy Adkinson). They are also survived by grandchildren Erika Holzinger (Nick Dolce), Rainer (Maja) Holzinger, Scott Lopez (Melissa), Laura Lopez Levine (Josh), Missy Blauer, Jennifer Blauer Griffin (Beau) and 5 great grandchildren. They are also survived by John's brother Robert (Maryann) and several nieces and nephews. John's brother Paul died in June.

John and Laura were a devoted couple who complemented each other in all things. Laura was calm, reserved, level-headed and organized. John was energetic, gregarious, persistent and creative. They lived happy lives and were wonderful parents. John demonstrated his deep love and devotion to Laura the past few years by keeping her engaged in life, even as her mental capacity diminished. They kept their vow, Till death us do part.

Cremation arrangements were made with Crevasse's Simple Cremation and they will be buried in Jacksonville National Cemetery. The family plans a celebration of their lives in January in Gainesville.

Published in the Florida Times-Union on Nov. 23, [2014]


John was born on 27 August 1943 in Mountain Top (Luzerne), PA and at the time this application was submitted was a resident of Gainesville, FL.

John enlisted in the Army at Buffalo, NY on 5 November 1942 and was assigned to Company F, 508th PIR.

Pfc Blower was wounded in action on 6 July 1944 in France and was evacuated.  He was transferred to an unknown hospital on 10 October 1944 and was later able to return to duty with Service company for further recuperation.

On 9 December 1944 Pfc Blower was transferred back into Company F and went into combat with the regiment on 18 December for the Battle of The Bulge.

On 11 January he was listed as a non-battle casualty, presumably for frostbite.  On 11 April 1945 was transferred to an undisclosed hospital and did not return to the regiment.

Although his death has been reported (perhaps by his association company rep) to have occurred, no record of his expiration or burial has yet been located.

* NOTE: John's surname consistently appeared as "BLOWER" in federal census files and on his service records but as BLAUER on this one application however the ASN matches in all cases of military records.

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