As dean of students at Citrus High School, Angie Blasl had an uncanny knack -— almost a sixth sense — for spotting dress code violations, even three hallways away.
Angie Blasl steered her career from working as a school bus driver to serving as dean of students at Citrus High School. Blasl died Feb. 28 at age 56 after battling cancer.
And it didn’t matter if the violator was a student or staff member. If she caught you, you were “Blased.”
“It became a contest, a cat-and-mouse game, to find areas of the school where you could avoid her,” said Phil McLeod, CHS assistant principal, at Angie’s memorial service. “When the fad of jeans with holes started, Mrs. Blasl had the answer: Cover the holes with duct tape, and she even had different colors and designs.
“The students actually enjoyed being ‘Blased,’ and they’d mention it in their graduation speeches,” he said. “Mrs. Blasl was tough, she was stern and she was tenacious, and the first day she became dean of students we butted heads. ... However, over time we developed a friendship that I will forever cherish.”
After a long battle with cancer, Angela Lynn Norton Blasl died Feb. 28. She was 56.
Born in Jacksonville, Angie Blasl came to Citrus County in the 1980s after attending Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. Her mother and father and two sisters had moved to Inverness several years earlier, and she wanted to be where her family was.
She began her 28-year career with the Citrus County School System driving a school bus. She would drive the students in the mornings, take classes at Saint Leo University for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, and then drive the bus route home, reading to the kids as they boarded the bus in the afternoon.
After teaching at an elementary school in Hernando County, she taught math at the Renaissance Center, bringing her students breakfast bars and apples.
She taught math at Lecanto High School for a while, then transferred to Citrus High School, first teaching math and then working her way up through administration, spending the last seven years of her career as dean of students.
When she first became dean of students, McLeod said, students and parents weren’t too happy. Angie Blasl didn’t coddle students, but held them to a high standard.
“But over time, the students began coming to her to talk to her about their goals, their problems and concerns,” McLeod said. “They confided in her; they trusted her. They’d see her in the hallway and they’d want a hug. Students would return after graduating and seek her out to tell her how college or the workforce was treating them. ... She remembered their names and their concerns and their aspirations, and they truly loved her.”
“I was completely intimidated by her,” said former CHS student Hannah Schmitt. “But when I became a T.A. in student services, I quickly learned that ... she was not a woman I wanted to avoid, but one I wanted to get to know. I’ll never forget how she helped me through those tough but crucial last two years of high school.
“She was a strong fighter, a beautiful soul,” she said. “She was my mentor, but most importantly, my friend.”
To her two younger sisters, Beth Dennis and Robin Martone, Angie was a great big sister, said sister Beth. “We used to go to the beach and see how long it took us to spot some European tourists. When I would come home to visit ... we would watch Hallmark movies or episodes of ‘Friends’ in her bedroom and just hang out,” Beth said.
“On my 40th birthday, we celebrated with a bunch of friends and family at a hotel in Cocoa Beach. This was when Tervis Tumblers were popular. I complained that I didn’t have one, but that was what she bought me for my birthday — I still use it to this day,” she said.
Her sister, Robin, recalled when she was entering ninth grade. Money was tight in the family, so she wasn’t going to be able to get new clothes to start high school. That’s when Angie decided that was not acceptable for her little sister and took her shopping herself.
“Angie and I did a lot of projects together, and we never even discussed which task each one of us were going to do; we just established a nice working rhythm,” she said. “We laid wood floor in my house, painted and decorated each other’s houses and laid a tile floor in her house.
“Angie and I are five years apart, and our relationship only grew and became deeper the older we got,” Robin said. “We raised our families together, and my kids could come to her for anything and her son, Kris, could come to James and me for anything. We truly were and are a village of a family.”
When Angie was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was ready for the battle. She shaved her head and took the chemo and radiation with a positive and upbeat attitude. She beat it, too, for two years. Then the cancer returned to her liver and finally to her brain.
Angie’s goal was to see Kris get married. The wedding was supposed to be in December, but plans were changed to Thanksgiving. She was able to travel to Austin, Texas, to see her only son marry. Just several weeks later, she learned she had brain cancer.
“I think a lot about how she handled everything since her first diagnosis, especially when she found out she had brain cancer,” Kris said. “She never really complained or felt pity for herself, but instead 100 percent trusted in her doctors and in God. She constantly talked about how she knew God had a plan and relied on her faith in his plan, even though we all may not have understood what his plan was.
“I think because of that faith, it gave her complete peace in the end, and really the whole family,” he said.
Angie Blasl was strong-willed from birth. She lived large, laughed loudly and loved fiercely.
She “hijacked” vacations, inviting herself along whenever a sister or her mom took a trip. She loved parties and holidays, game nights and get-togethers — anything that brought the family together.
She loved Maroon 5, Train and country music. She was a proud Baylor University mom because that’s where Kristopher got his master’s degree.
She was all-in when it came to anything. She sat on the front row at church and fed her son and his friends hot dogs and Pop Tarts and sandwiches on Wednesdays just to get them to her house so she could take them all to church youth group.
Angie Blasl was deliberate and decisive. She was willing to do whatever it took to get kids on the right path, to be strong of character and to do the right thing always.
“In this generation of ‘every child is a winner,’ she said, ‘every child is accountable,’” said her brother-in-law James Martone, who worked with her at CHS. “At school, she dished out fair and equitable discipline. All students left her office better off.”
Contact Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy at 352-564-2927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.