He served in the Navy during World War II aboard a PT boat. After the war, he moved to Eden, N.C., where he taught all grade levels before becoming a school principal in 1950. He graduated from the University of North Carolina, and in 1954 received his master's degree in education from Columbia University.
A year later, he was hired as a professor at Temple. His areas of expertise were English education and elementary education. He oversaw the training of many Philadelphia-area public school teachers and administrators.
He also developed off-campus classes for Delaware County teachers and was known as a pioneer in the field of adult literacy, creating special literary curricula for the Philadelphia Fire Department, county correctional systems, and the Army.
Although he never dwelled on it, Dr. Blake saw an opportunity to fix a problem in society and acted, said his daughter, Gene O. "Genie" Blake. "He seriously couldn't believe that anyone should be deprived of that," she said, of the ability to read.
Dr. Blake was a popular speaker at conferences. His work on literacy took him to Germany, England, and Nigeria. He published widely in journals and wrote a book, Creating a Learning-Centered Classroom (1977).
In 1990, he was awarded the Great Teacher Award, Temple's top honor for excellence in teaching. Although he retired in 1993, he taught summer school and acted as a dissertation adviser until 2005.
Dr. Blake had a simple adage: "Pay more attention to learning than to teaching." He offered that advice to anyone trying to reach students. His classes at Temple were known for involving students in problem-solving discussions, his family said.
Outside the classroom, Dr. Blake was an enthusiastic gardener, woodworker, golfer, writer of short stories and poems, and fan of the Phillies and Eagles. He was a voracious reader, checking out books from the White Horse Village library until just before his death.
Besides his daughter, he is survived by a son, Howard E. "Chip" Blake Jr.; and a grandson.
Contributions may be made to Tyler Arboretum, 515 Painter Rd., Media, Pa. 19063, or via www.tylerarboretum.org.