A 49-year-old Commerce Department computer systems analyst, who was apparently depressed about having his job downgraded to his death yesterday from the roof of the seven-story Commerce Building at 15th and E. Streets NW.
D.C. police, who have ruled the death an apparent suicide indentified the man as Edmund B. Blackler of 539 E. Indian Spring Drive, Silver Spring . He was pronounced dead at the scene at 11 a.m.
The news of Blackler's death created disbelief and shock among his friends and colleagues. "I just don't understand it", said John Ferdinand a brahnch chief and friend who works at the Commerce Department. "I saw him this morning and he seemed fine, not depressed or anything."
Several other friends and colleagues who asked not to be identified, said they believed Blackler had been depressed about having his job downgraded from a GS-14 to GS-13, a move in which the branch he headed was abolished.
Blacker, who is married and the father of four children, including three in college, according to neighbors, had been chief of the customer assistance branch of the Automatic Data Processing unit. This meand he was the liaison between the data programming unit and agencies within the Commerce unit and agencies within the Commerce Department needing programming assistance according to Jan Prokop, director of Automatic Data processing Management. Prokop said Blackler's branch was abolished so that personnal could be better used in other areas.
John Golden, director of Personnel for Commerce, said Blackler would have retained his current salary for two years and then taken a cut to a GS-13 salary unless he could have found a GS-14 job he qualified for GS-13 salaries begin at $26,000 and GS-14 begin at $30,000.
Golden said Blackler, if he was upset about the reorganization and his subsequent downgrading, which took effect in August, did not file the customary mievance.
Joseph Smiraldo, director of the Office of Organization and Management Systems, "he was quiet, introverted, one of the nicest guys I have ever met. He smoked a pipe, and he took time to think about what he was going to say, drawing on the pipe and then speakin. I guess you could say he was sort of professional."
Blackler, joined the Department of Commerce in 1974, after working at the Treasury Department. He was an Air Force veteran, and received a bachelor's degree in economics from Trinity College. He later received a master's degree in business administration and industries management from Boston University.
Prokop said that after the reorganization, Blackler "continued to do essential the same kind of work that he had been doing.
"He Blackler was advised in July about the reorganization and that he would have to go down [WORD ILLEGIBLE] grade." Prokop said, "He was a junior person at his grade level - there were not enough positions at his grade level, and I offered him the next position at no change in salary, which he accepted."
"We discussed it at the time. He, of course, wasn't happy about it, but he was glad that his pay would not change," Prokop said.
"Everything we've done in the last several montas to reorganize the department has been as effort to pull the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] agency department together overall," said Hugh Brennan, deputy director of the Office of Organization and Management Systems. "Most people categorize this department as a [WORD ILLEGIBLE] of unrelated jobs."
"From what I understand, the President has looked to each of the event that [WORD ILLEGIBLE] can". Brennan said.
Brennan said that the Department has been reorganizing for about the last eight months. Colleagues of Blackler's said the division in which he worked had been reorganized four times in the past year.
The reorganizations are being done at the direction of President Carter to reduce what he calls bureucratic waste.
In a speech to Commerce Department employees last Feb. 9. Carter promised that "the change in the structure of government would not adversely affect our own professional careers under any circumstances.
"If it ever does," the President continued, "You contact me directly. I mean that. All my Cabinet officers have instruction to that effect."