ITD family mourns loss of Harold Bleil,
man of enduring quality

Note: Harold did not lose his life in the act of performing his ITD duties, yet his was an exceedingly rare case — a current department employee who passed away before retirement.

Longtime ITD employee Harold Eugene Bleil, 76, passed away on March 12, after nearly 37 years with the department. He reportedly didn't feel well one Friday (March 1), then checked into St. Luke's hospital in Meridian the following day. He passed away 10 days later.

Harold was born in 1942 in Los Angeles, California, but spent the majority of his life in Boise.

He started with the department in April 1982 in District 3 as a Maintenance Operations Trainee, advanced to Traffic at D3 in 1986, and transferred to Headquarters Traffic in August of 1990.

He had been a Transportation Engineering Assistant at HQ for 18 years at the time of his passing.

Prior to coming to ITD, Harold worked for CalFire in California, worked in the National Guard as a Tech. Sgt. in the Air Force, and served in Vietnam. Bleil then enrolled in classes In order to make his transition into the transportation field.

Harold made an immediate impression as soon as he got to District 3 in the spring of 1982.

"I was working on the Sign Crew in 1983 alongside Harold, and the entire crew was sitting around early in the morning plotting our day," recalls Sign Shop Foreman Brett Purvis. "All of a sudden, the building began to shake, and Harold being from California was the only one who popped up and ran outside yelling 'EARTHQUAKE!!'"

"We had had no idea what was happening, and gave a collective HUH ???. Sure enough, we'd had an earthquake. Harold was waiting for us outside with a smirk on his face, and said, 'You Idaho boys don't have a clue, do you?'."

Harold and Judith Bleil, his wife of 44 years, had two grown children, Mindi and Jason.

His family interred his ashes in Nevada City, California, Judith's hometown.

He wanted to be placed in the Sierra Nevadas, where he spent many summers fighting fires.

Postscript: Harold and I always came into work at about the same time, so we'd usually exchange pleasantries in the hall or on the elevator ride up to the second floor. He never failed to smile, was a very nice man, and will be missed. I worked with him on a project a few years ago, and he was always unfailingly polite, and bent over backward to make sure I had whatever I needed. As they used to say in the olden days, he was a gentleman, a credit to his profession, and a fine human being.

Published 04-26-19