John Alan Blair 2nd, known as John-John, died peacefully on Dec. 12 in Miami, Fla. He was the son of Mary Marshall Price Blair and Charles Johnston Blair 2nd of Coconut Grove, Fla., and Edgartown.

John was born in Miami on Oct. 13, 1952, with Down syndrome and his long journey of 67 years with this condition has marked his life as well as ours. He grew up in Coconut Grove and Edgartown, and as a teenager, became an early resident at the Haven Center in South Miami, which his mother, Marshall, helped set up as a residential home for people with Down syndrome.

One of the Haven Center’s great focuses was the Special Olympics where John excelled, proudly showing off his winning swimming medals, which were many! Every summer, he would join the family on the Vineyard, which after the death of his mother, now included Fanny Whitney Brush Blair and her sons, and to John’s great delight, a black lab named Sparks. John-John was always part of all the siblings’ activities — learning to hang onto the back of a surfboard, free a jib sheet, dig for clams, cast a rod, or stir the chowder. Where they went, so did John-John. One of his greatest relationships, however, was with the family animals. He was an early dog whisperer, and seemed able to understand and empathize with them all. Tireless at keeping the labs retrieving, John could bring even the most athletic one to its knees.

Encouraged by Peter Halby, a fellow Islander and counselor at Camp Jabberwocky, John spent each summer there as an enthusiastic camper and performer, and later at Zeno Farm in Vermont, which Peter and his brother Will founded. These camp experiences introduced him to all sorts of new adventures — horseback-riding, kite-boarding, snorkeling, and roles in the annual plays. Inspired by his energetic and enthusiastic new counselors/friends, John’s sense of himself expanded and that, in turn, helped his siblings and friends come to a greater awareness of him as a whole, unique individual person who just happened to have Down syndrome.

John’s last years were extremely peaceful for him, but difficult for his immediate family. Because the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome also adds an additional dose of the amyloid that brings on early Alzheimer’s, they in a sense lost him several years ago. It has been a long, sad, slow goodbye. Now that it’s over, they are certain that he’s nearer to all those who’ve been waiting for him, including several old dogs, who, sensing that their boy has returned at last, know that a ball can be thrown for eternity! What joy.

John is survived by his siblings: Nancy Vietor, Lou Pfaelzer, Charlie Blair, George, David, and Charlie Brush, and their families; by his cousin Margaret Steele and her family; by Rob, Annie, and Allen Blair; and by countless friends.

A memorial service will be held in Florida at the Wow Center( the old Haven Center) this winter and later on the Vineyard in early summer, which will be announced nearer the date.

Contributions can be sent to Zeno Mountain Farm: 950 Zeno Rd. Lincoln, VT. 05443, and would be greatly appreciated.

Godspeed, John-John, Johnny, Budge. You made the lives of all who knew you bigger, happier and more compassionate.