Tyler Blakslee in Memorial.

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Tyler Blakslee Obituary - By Jerry and Karan Blakslee

TYLER Mitchell BLAKSLEE, Born July 24, 1977, age 44, was sadly and tragically taken from us on the stormy night of July 23, 2022, in Grand Rapids. For those who wonder what happened, very concisely, he was celebrating his next day birthday at a GR popular outdoor bar. He was standing at an open doored shipping container bar when a huge gust of wind suddenly came up from the passing storm and slammed the heavy steel door of the container, trapping Tyler between the door and the bar which crushed him and broke his ribs. His heart was pierced by a broken rib and he internally bled to his death. Now that the reason why he was suddenly taken from us is out of the way, we can focus on Tyler’s life and the many layers that made him who he was.

Tyler, (TMB) was born in Lansing, 44 years ago to Jerry and Karan Blakslee. His older sister is Stephanie (Sunny) Han who lives in Bethany, Oregon with her 13 year old amazing daughter, Olivia, who is also Tyler’s only niece. He has an uncle, Stephen Blakslee, an aunt, Suzanne Leven and several cousins.

Tyler attended Lansing schools and graduated from Lansing Sexton, received his BA degree from Michigan State University and his Master’s degree from Oakland University in Detroit. He first became a teacher at Lansing Eastern High School after he graduated from MSU and attended Olivet College and Oakland University while teaching at Lansing Eastern.

Tyler, as you know by now, became an amazing teacher at Eastern. He taught English and Literature within the International Baccalaureate program at Eastern and was awarded “Teacher of the Year” during his teaching years.

Tyler was a teacher who became many things to all of his students. To some he was a mentor, to others a counselor, to others a guiding friend and to some he was all of these. He was very unique in his teaching skills and methods and demanded the best from those he taught and he taught them how to become their best. He became an influence in their lives that would carry so many students thru hard times in their lives and gave others the courage to keep in school and even further to attend college. Tyler was a Master Teacher who became such an important figure in many of his student’s lives.

Tyler, throughout his life, had grown a passion for reading and writing and became an expert and scholar in those endeavors which guided him to become the person he was. Books, literature, poetry and writing became a big part of his life and it reflected how he taught and how he lived.

With his God given talent in prose and writing, he became ordained and certified as a marriage Officiant and as word and witness of his amazing and unique ceremonies spread, he became a much sought after Officiant and has married many of his friends, their friends and others.

Tyler had many levels to him and another level which became a huge part of his life was his love for music. It influenced the way he taught and how he lived. He joined his first band when he was 14 years old and was a member of many bands, throughout his life. He sang and wrote many of the band’s songs and recorded a number of CD’s that many of those reading this obituary and who followed his music, currently own.

While teaching at Eastern, Tyler’s love and passion for the classic horror movie scene naturally guided him to start a horror movie club for him and his students as an after school exercise. The “Teenage Werewolves Horror Film Fiend Club” as it was called, became very popular as it went online with members numbering in the thousands. Until his passing, Tyler also held film screening sessions at the Historic Howell Theater, in Howell, Mi. which many attended to watch a selected horror film then dissect and discuss the film after its viewing.

Tyler’s love for the outdoors, led him to many friendships with fellow backpackers and he and his friends visited numerous National Parks throughout his many travels. He would often go off on his own to camp and decompress. He loved to lie in his hammock tied between two trees, listen to the quietness and sounds of nature and read one of many of his favorite novels. He also enjoyed birding while being in the outdoors.

Tyler’s nightlife activities included visiting many bars with his friends and he became a bartender many years ago, well known for his humor and professional gravitas and worked at many drinking establishments in the East Lansing area.

Tyler left the teaching profession just before the Covid outbreak and moved to Grand Rapids to join his many friends that had moved there throughout the years, and to start a new profession at Northpointe Bank as a Senior Instructional Designer. He has been appreciated there as he was tasked with rewriting the companies many training manuals and informational documents. Naturally, Tyler also acquired a bartending job at Stella’s, a very popular nightlife destination in Grand Rapids and again reunited with his old friends and in the process, made many new ones. One of Tyler’s new co-workers at Stella’s became much more than just a co-worker she became his soulmate. Heather Sekarek became the most important person in Tyler’s life, and he in hers’. They had dedicated their lives and souls to each other and were planning a life’s journey together.

Tyler had an amazing but very short life, and while he was with us he made his mark and lasting impression on many, many people. His passing is so sad and tragic on so many levels. He will be missed by all of us and has left a missing piece never to be replaced. He was a son, a brother, an uncle, a soulmate, a friend, a teacher, a mentor, a writer, a scholar, a musician, an outdoorsman, a bartender…He was all of those and more. While we all will miss him so very much, he will be with us forever. Rest In Peace TMB..we love you!!.. and we will see you again, on the other side.

A celebration of life will be held on Sunday, August 7, 2022, from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. at Lansing Brewing Company, 518 E. Shiawassee Street, Lansing, MI 48912, in the Stockhouse event room. Another celebration of life will also be held Sunday, August 14, 2022, from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. at St. Adalbert’s 5th Street Hall, 701 5th Street, Grand Rapids, MI 49504.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be given to the Audubon Society.

Michigan Cremation - Website Obituary

Tyler Blakslee - WLNS 11 O'clock News

Tyler Blakslee Lansing State Journal - "Former Lansing teacher Tyler Blakslee, 44, who died Saturday, remembered for his vibrant life" By Rachel Greco of the Lansing State Journal - PDF of LSJ Article

Pictures and Screenshots of Comments about Tyler Blakslee from friends family and students.


Reposting of Lansing State Journal Article for the family to read. 

All rights reserved to Lansing State Journal 

Former Lansing teacher Tyler Blakslee, 44, who died Saturday, remembered for his vibrant life

Rachel Greco
Lansing State Journal
Tyler Blakslee's family, friends and former students say the longtime Lansing Eastern High School teacher, who died tragically Saturday night in Grand Rapids just hours before his 45th birthday, left a lasting impact on so many people.

Blakslee, 44, was with friends celebrating his impending birthday at the Sandy Point Beach House restaurant's outdoor bar when he was struck by a steel door blown by a gust of wind during a storm, said his father Jerry Blakslee.

Tyler Blakslee

Tyler Blakslee was trapped between the door and the bar, he said, crushing him and breaking ribs, one of which punctured his heart.

His sudden death has been a shock, Jerry Blakslee said, but it doesn't erase the rich, multifaceted life he led or the color he brought to other people's lives.

"He was a son, he was a brother, he was an uncle, a friend, a teacher, a mentor, a writer, a scholar, a musician, an outdoorsman and a bartender," he said. "He was all of those things and more."

'A phenomenal educator'

A Lansing native and graduate of Sexton High School, Tyler Blakslee received his teaching degree from Michigan State University.

He taught English and diploma programme level film studies at Eastern for 15 years, according to a statement from the Lansing School District, leaving the job in 2020.

Long-time Eastern High School Literature teacher Tyler Blakslee, pictured here in 2010 in his classroom at the Lansing school. Blakslee died Saturday, July 23. He was 44.

District officials described him as "a phenomenal educator."

"Mr. Blakslee’s sense of humor, style, and energy impacted all who had the pleasure of knowing him," the district's statement read. "He will be truly missed."

Former students say Blakslee stood apart from other educators because of his passion for the subjects he taught and for the kids in his classroom. They recall a vibrant teacher who wore vintage rock band T-shirts, played in a local band and decorated his room with horror movie posters.

Jose Gallo, 26, credits Blakslee with helping him discover a love for books.

Gallo was in his classroom in 2013 and described him as "fun, very creative, always willing to really share and poor out his knowledge about things he had a passion for."

Tyler Blakslee, a long-time English teacher at Eastern High School, died Saturday, July 23 in Grand Rapids. He was 44.

"I didn't like to read, any of it," Gallo said.

But Blakslee made reading William Golding's "Lord of the Flies," and "The Elephant Vanishes," by Haruki Murakami memorable, he said.

"He really brought a different perspective of how to read a book and how to analyze a book and stuff like that," Gallo said. "His was one of my favorite classes."

"He was always so real and transparent with all of us," Barnhart said. "He always told us, 'Yeah, the struggles are real but also the love is real so you have to be there and experience things.'"

He impacted his students by being himself, she said.

"I aspire to be at least be a little bit like him," Barnhart said.

In 2014, Blakslee won the Lansing Eastern Alumni Association's Hugh Spagnuolo Excellence in Teaching Award.

Becki Reiner, who helped him expand the club online over the last few years, said it inspired more than just high school students.

"He could pull themes and lessons from all sorts of films and show how they lent themselves to different historical times and politics," she said. 

A friend to many

Close friend Gaebril Jones, 48, said Blakslee moved from Lansing to Grand Rapids two years ago to begin a new chapter of his life.

He brought his "bright energy" with him, Jones said, making fast friends with the people he met there.

Tyler Blakslee (right) with his girlfriend Heather Sekerak together on Mackinac Island in June.

"You could be having a horrible day and somehow he could walk in the room with his strut, his smile and just a couple glib remarks, comical banter and whatever your problem was kind of just dissolved," Jones said.

Girlfriend Heather Sekerak, 35, said she discovered she had so much in common with Blakslee after meeting him at Stella's Lounge, the Grand Rapids bar where they both worked. 

"The most honestly selfless person I think I've ever met in my entire life," she said. "He would drop everything to do something for anybody. Whatever he had on his plate just didn't matter in that moment. He would be there for you."

Long-time friend Dan Jaquint, 46, met Blakslee in the late 1990s when they were both members of local Lansing bands.

"We ended up forming our own band, The Fencemen, which he sang and wrote for," Jaquint said in an email. "He was the smartest person I knew. His brain was like a library and he could retain so much information, it always amazed everyone."

Blakslee carried a book and a notebook with him wherever he went, Sekerak said.

"He was a teacher, no matter where he was," she said. "He would talk to you about anything at any moment and he would never make you feel small for not knowing something."

Memorial events planned

To many, Blakslee was known simply as "TMB," said Jerry Blakslee.

The nickname mirrored his initials, short for Tyler Mitchell Blakslee, but it actually stood for "that's my boy."

"That's what I put on a cigar box back when he was first born," Jerry Blakslee said. "So he sort of, through life, was called that and somehow his students picked it up."

His son had endless energy," he said, and "never sat down for a second."

His interests were boundless, too.

Tyler Blakslee became ordained and certified as a marriage officiant, presiding over cousin Laken Stoliker's marriage to her husband Travis in 2015.

Before the ceremony Laken said he met with both of them, asking them about their relationship and writing down details he spoke about during the wedding.

"He actually listened," she said. "When he spoke he made every person in the room feel just as special as the two people who were getting married."

His death makes "no sense at all," Laken said.

"I didn’t believe it," Barnhart said. "It was very hard. It’s still very hard."

Jerry and Karan Blakslee, Tyler's mother, are planning two memorial services in Grand Rapids and Lansing. Details are still being finalized, but both will be next month, Jerry Blakslee said.

The goal is to remember Tyler Blakslee's "love for life," Jerry Blakslee said. "He was just a person with deep thought, but a big heart," he said.

Former students are hosting a celebration of Tyler Blakslee's life at 8 p.m. Saturday at The Avenue Cafe, located at 2021 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing.

Contact Rachel Greco at rgreco@lsj.com. Follow her on Twitter @GrecoatLSJ .


Tyler Blakslee's Music - Band - Biddy Biddy Biddy