Dr. med. Cornelius K. Blesius

Dr. C.K. Blesius, MD

✶ 29 November 1937 – † 4 March 2019

Dr. Cornelius (Nels) Klaus Blesius, 81, passed away on March 4, 2019. He was an intelligent, optimistic, big-hearted man, who was loved and full of personality. He will be remembered as a caring husband, father, Opa, physician, and one of El Paso’s biggest fans.

He was born in Berlin, Germany to Nikolaus and Erica Blesius in 1937. As a young boy he lived through WWII and learned the life-long traits of perseverance, survival, and the ability to overcome adversity with optimism and conviction. He survived the war and post-war food crisis by relying on family on the Moselle River and elsewhere in Germany.

After the war, he studied philosophy, germanistics, art history, and medicine in Freiburg and Berlin. He went on to complete clinical internships in Berlin, Heidelberg, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. As a teeneager, he dreamed of living in America. He realized his dream by applying for a U.S. Visa. He was given a green card and the opportunity to head an emergency room in New Jersey. He traveled when he could and fell in love with the wide open spaces, the sky, and the weather of the American Southwest. He later found a way to move to the Southwest by working alongside the Sears Foundation to establish the Bovina Medical Center in the Texas panhandle. While running the clinic, he applied for and was accepted to another residency in Internal Medicine at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. During this period he became a pilot, purchased an airplane, and commuted between Dallas and Bovina until a replacement could be found.

It was during his residency at Baylor that he met his wife of 48 years, Rita Fae Clark. Rita was a nursing student at Baylor University. They married in 1971 in St. Petersburg, Florida. After completing his residency program, he sought out and embraced the opportunity to practice medicine in the West Texas town of El Paso, which at the time was a medically underserved area. This was the beginning of a long stimulating career in the Sun City. He prided himself in providing excellent care to his patients. Over the years he has cared for thousands of patients who sought out his careful and thorough diagnostic workups. He loved his patients and practicing medicine in El Paso until he retired at the age of 79.

In his free time, he enjoyed reading, playing classical and baroque music, piloting his own plane, attending bible study, and appreciating the light and beauty found in the sunsets of El Paso from the balcony of his own home.

His life in the United States was always punctuated with the relationships he sustained with friends and family on the Moselle River, in the Rhine River valley, and elsewhere. This contact brought him joy.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Nikolaus and Erica Blesius and his brother Wolf Ludwig Blesius. He is survived by his wife, Rita, his son Carl with wife Robin; his daughter Fae and her husband William; and his seven wonderful grandchildren. He is missed by family and friends.

Please share your memories: remembering-dr-blesius@blesius.org.


Ich heisse Ulrich Riske, wohne in São Paulo, Brasilien. [...] Wir waren bester Freunde während meiner Jahre (1954/1955) in dem Internat in Schlüchtern. Er war intelligent, aufgeschlossen, witzig. Wir haben uns mal unter dem Dach dieses ehemaliger Bauernhofes eine Bude eingerichtet - nach unserem Leitsatz: Nur das unbedingt Nötigste rein! Hier haben wir über existenzielle Probleme diskutiert und dazu Pfeife geraucht. Ich errinere mich an seinen Witz: Weisst du warum der Tabak beim Anzunden nach oben geht? Weil er sehen will we da zieht. Good bye, Cornelius"

Ulrich Riske, São Paulo, October 2019

I often think of Cornelius. He was an extraordinary person. I remember my medical elective period (Famulatur) with him in El Paso very well, where I met the American part of my family. You all welcomed me so warmly, thank you very much. I remember our work together at Southwest Diagnostic Institute. He was extremely well educated and could interact with patients in such a very special way. I learned a lot. We would then sit together in the evenings, talking about wine, Germany, America, the universe, and everything. My father und Cornelius were cousins. Alex (or „Alfons" as Cornelius named my father) told me stories about the times the two where kids. He paid him at lot of attention and so do I. I will definitely never forget Cornelius, my uncle, the great physician, the unconventional thinker, the warm hearted person.

Dr. Alexander Regnery, Bremen, April 2019

The conversations shared with Nels were always stimulating and genuine. The short time I was privileged to share a bible study class with him has made a deep and lasting impact on my approach to scripture. I say “shared the class with him” because he brought more knowledge to the class than I ever did as teacher. I left the lesson each time with more questions from Nels than we answered. I’d spend the next week digging through material and topics Nels had shared barely equipped for the next lesson before Nels would send me back to do more research the next week. The impact this made on the way I’ve approached bible study and my study of history continues. I have often have a comment from Nels ringing in my ears as I piece together a material for a new lesson. The study of John 1 specifically has completely re-colored my understanding our Lord and Heavenly Father. I continue to share those insights stimulated by Nels with anyone who will give me time to explain the original language and the message of this text. It was his genuine love for God and sincere good will that he projected to everyone he touched that will always last. To be recognized by someone of Nels caliber is truly an honor that I’ll always appreciate. We love you Rita.

Christopher Licking, El Paso, March 2019

I met Nels in the mid 90's when Rita, his wife, was working with me at a program in the William Beaumont Army Medical Center. First met him at a party at my home for the people working at the program. I later had the opportunity to visit the Blesius' home. Nels was not only a good and caring physician, but he was truly larger than life. I shall remember him always. Condolences to Rita and the family.

Frank Giordano, MD, El Paso, March 2019

Carl and Family - sorry to see that your Dad passed. Fondly remember great talks and stories with him back in our El Paso High School days. Thoughts and love to you and your family.

Julia Crowley, Anthony, NM, March 2019

I will forever be eternally grateful for the guidance, love & generosity that was bestowed to me 38 years ago. You taught me so much during my years of employment with you. I lovingly refer to you as Nels, you will always be remembered fondly. With much love

Mary Lou Valenciano, El Paso, March 2019

Mein letzter Gruß an meinen Vetter Cornelius

Von Mamu, deinem Vetter in Deutschland

Lieber Corni,

Wir haben in den vergangenen Jahren, ja fast Jahrzehnten regelmäßig miteinander gesprochen, du aus den USA und ich aus Deutschland. Und meist hast du angerufen mit den Worten:“ Ich wollte dir nur sagen, hier in El Paso ist alles ok.“ Und dann haben wir über Gott und die Welt geredet, über die Familie bei euch und bei uns. Nur als ich vor wenigen Tagen einen Anruf von deinem Sohn Carl aus El Paso bekam, wusste ich, dass alles nicht mehr ok in El Paso war. Du hast uns verlassen.

In meiner Erinnerung begann unsere enge Bindung, als du in den 60er Jahren Student in Berlin warst, einer Stadt, die damals ein Brennpunkt der internationalen Politik war. Ich habe dich dort besucht, wir haben uns dann häufiger in Heidelberg, wo du ebenfalls studiert hast, getroffen, in Freiburg im Schwarzwald, wo deine Mutter lange Zeit gelebt hat. Wenn du deine Verwandten von der Seite deines Vaters an der schönen Mosel besucht hast, warst du auch bei uns, nicht weit davon entfernt, zuhause. Du hast deine Verbindung zur alten Heimat und zu unserer Großfamilie mit großem, bewundernswertem Interesse über Jahrzehnte, die du dann schon in den USA warst, aufrecht erhalten. Das habe ich immer bewundert und dafür bin ich dir von Herzen dankbar.

Deine Liebe zur alten Heimat in Deutschland hast du auch auf deinen Sohn Carl übertragen, der lange Zeit in deinem geliebten Heidelberg studiert und dabei auch als 3. Kind zeitweise in unserer Familie gelebt hat. Und auch dafür bin ich dir von Herzen dankbar.

Du warst ein kluger Kopf, weit über deinen medizinischen Bereich hinaus, voll von Wissen und voller Neugier. Wir haben bei meinen Besuchen hier in El Paso stundenlang über die Vergangenheit in Deutschland und heutige Politik in den USA diskutiert, lebhaft, auch wenn diese Diskussionen nicht immer ganz einfach waren. Sie waren aber immer höchst interessant und haben geholfen, unsere eigenen Positionen nochmals zu überdenken. Doch das ist jetzt vorbei. Mir wirst du fehlen.

Lieber Corni, Du hast jetzt deine letzte Reise angetreten.

Ruhe in Frieden

Und wir werden uns wiedersehen, ganz bestimmt.

Dein Vetter Mamu