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Norbert Blei

Norbert Blei passed Tuesday, April 23, 2013 in his beloved Door County, 8:18 in the morning. He was born in Chicago, IL on August 23, 1935 and lived in the Chicago area until Norbert moved his family to Ellison Bay in 1968, where he lived his passion and joy as a writer, teacher and artist.

Norbert Blei was the “writer in residence” at The Clearing Folk School in Ellison Bay for nearly 40 years. He is an award-winning author of 18 books. He was published in The New Yorker, Chicago Magazine, Wisconsin Academy Review, Utne Reader, Tri-Quarterly, Kenyon Review, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune and Isthmus. Blei did readings, performances and writing workshops throughout the Midwest. He was an on-line columnist for Door County’s web magazine,, GoGuide, Door Reminder and Door County Advocate. Mr. Blei was also a frequent guest on Wisconsin Public Radio over the years.

Mr. Blei edited a Door County arts newspaper and was the editor/publisher of a distinguished small press, CROSS+ROADS PRESS, devoted to emerging and accomplished poets, short story writers, essayists, novelists, artists and photographers. He was the recipient of the Gordon MacQuarrie Award (1997) from the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters for his “deep environmental ethic and journalistic integrity” and is one of 64 Wisconsin writers whose work was chosen to be architecturally incorporated in the Midwest Convention Center in Milwaukee. Blei earned a Pushcart Press Award in fiction. In 1999, he received the Bradley Major Achievement Award from the Council of Wisconsin Writers. His final collection of published work was Winter Book.

The son of Emily and George Blei, now deceased, Norbert is survived by his former wife and friend Barbara Blei of Coronado, CA, his son Christopher Blei and wife Antonia Blei of San Diego, CA, his daughter Bridget and husband Robert Buff of Stroudsburg, PA and his beloved grandchildren Corbin, Courtney and Caroline Buff, and loving partner Jude Genereaux.

A memorial service for Norbert is being planned for early Summer.

In lieu of flowers a Norbert Blei Memorial Literary Fund has been established at The Clearing - P.O. Box 65, Ellison Bay, WI 54210 attn. Tim Stone.

Online condolences and registration may be offered at


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