I never got around to interviewing Sgt. Bill Blake. The Minneapolis police officer was on a short list of names I was accumulating for a potential series of profiles on people who were spending their time on earth "making a life" and not simply making a living.
Now, it's too late. Blake, 45, died Saturday, from complications related to heart disease. He was living with an external heart pump and hoping to get a transplant.
His obituary tells much of his story — about how his daughter's accidental shooting death led him to start a conference and information network to better coordinate law enforcement efforts in the Native American community. Sovereignty of tribes and the movement of members between Minneapolis and reservations in the region complicated the sharing of crime data.
But Blake wasn't just a data cruncher. The obit neglected the story of Blake foiling an armed robbery at Legends Bar two years ago, where he and his cousin were having lunch. The masked robbers burst in and ordered patrons to "give it up." Blake shot the gun out of one robber's hand and both fled, leaving behind gun fragments, blood and teeth that helped tie them to the crime.
Blake was also busy helping educate care givers about the portable heart device he was using and hoping to be able to get back to police work. Instead of giving in to adversity, he rolled it up in a ball and pushed it forward until it stuck to something better.
And kept rolling.