For several individuals, she was just recognized as Suki – the woman with the witty smile and ability to bring the greatest blues performers to the Topeka region.
Tuesday morning, the Topeka Blues Society reported Suki Blakely’s passing. Her illness had been cancer.
On the Topeka Blues Society Facebook page, Gerry Schmanke wrote, “We say goodbye to Suki with deep sadness.” “She was very important to a lot of us.” She’s the reason countless friendships centered around music have been formed! She asked “if we were okay” all the time. “Yes, mom, we are fine,” would be the kind reply from some of us. That was Suki; she was constantly checking to see if everyone was okay and enjoying themselves.
For many years, Suki ran Uncle Bo’s in the Ramada Hotel’s basement in the heart of Topeka. Additionally, she had a key role in starting the Spirit of Kansas Blues Festival, an all-day blues celebration held at Lake Shawnee on July 4 every year.
On Suki’s own Facebook page, tributes to her are flooding in. It’s a sad day, and many are calling her a friend, a champion, and a guardian.
Artist and Topeka company owner Mike Babb posted on Facebook, saying, “People, we lost a true friend today.” “Over the years, she accomplished so much for Topeka, not just the music scene.”