John Allan Blair, 84, Was Veteran, Patron of Arts

John Allan Blair of Edgartown died peacefully at home with his family on Sunday, May 18. He was 84 years old.

Born in Minneapolis, Minn., in 1919, he was the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Milton Johnston Blair. He grew up in the Chicago area, was graduated from Kent School and subsequently from Yale University. A gifted oarsman, he rowed at Henley, England, for both Kent and later Yale.

During World War II, he served in the Army Air Corps in North Africa as part of an early reconnaissance evaluation before the start of the North African Campaign. He retired at the end of the war, having attained the rank of major. Suddenly he was employed at Martin Marietta in Baltimore, Md., in the company's rocket development program. Following that, he became a partner in M.J. Blair Interior Design, a firm founded by his mother, Cora Schneider Blair.

Upon his retirement, he divided his time between Edgartown and Coconut Grove, Fla. A longtime resident of Edgartown, he first came to the Vineyard in the 1930s with his family, where he sailed and raced competitively in Vineyard Sound Interclubs and Katamas with his brothers, Charles Johnston (Chuck) Blair and F. Roberts (Bobs) Blair, all of them unofficially known as "the Blair boys." His other siblings included his sisters, Jane and Ann.

An erudite man, John had a deep appreciation for art and poetry. He became and remained throughout his life a strong supporter of Vineyard art, and many well-known artists numbered among his close friends. He will be remembered for his wit and wry commentary, his keen insight into the human condition and the depth of his compassion. As a bona fide member of the "greatest generation," his dignity and humor in life and death were matchless. There are few among his friends and family who were not nourished and sustained by him. "Sorely missed" is the understatement of the year.

Known affectionately as Unkie to his family and friends and their children, Mr. Blair is survived by his nieces, Nancy Blair Vietor of Edgartown, Louisa Blair Pfaelzer of Morrisville, Vt., Anne Blair de la Rue of Wescott, Surrey, England, Celelia Allen Blair of East Dummerston, Vt., and Margaret Robinson Steele of Edgartown; his nephews, Charles Johnston Blair Jr. of Edgartown, F. Roberts Blair Jr. of Austin, Tex., John Allan Blair 2nd of Miami, Fla., Charles N. Brush of Charlotte, Vt., David W. Brush of Duxbury, George W. Brush of West Tisbury and Henry Hollister Robinson of Gettysburg, Pa. He is also survived by 15 great-nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his nephew, Alleyne Howell of Thetford, Vt.

A memorial service to celebrate his life is planned for Saturday, July 5, at 11 a.m. at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Edgartown. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The John Blair Fund at the Martha's Vineyard Artists Association or in his memory to the planned new rowing center at Kent School in Kent, Conn.