Robert R. Blair Memorial Fund

Bob and Pat Blair on the dance floor.Robert “Bob” Blair was born on May 22, 1924, in Portland, Oregon, to Robert and Beula Louthan Blair. Bob’s father, a music teacher, emigrated from Ireland in 1884. The Blairs lived in Kansas, Idaho, and California before settling in Oregon. Bob’s father taught violin and his mother taught piano. In the fall of 1941, Bob’s father came to Corvallis for an assignment at Camp Adair. During this eight-week period, Bob attended Corvallis High School, where he met Patricia Ball, the granddaughter of Billy and Dorothy Ball of Corvallis. Bob and Pat hit it off from the beginning, and she traveled to Portland to attend his graduation party in June of 1942. On July 15, 1943, after graduating from Portland’s Franklin High School, Bob enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in the South Pacific during World War II as a Corporal. Bob uncle, the late Colonel William Blair, was known as the “father of radar.” (The Colonel conceived of the idea prior to 1930 and developed radar technology during World War II, but because of the secrecy required for national defense, he was not able to file for a patent until 1945.)

After being discharged from the Marines in March 1946, Bob attended Oregon State College to study business. He and Pat were married on August 27, 1947, in Corvallis. Pat completed her education degree at Oregon State in 1949 and worked for the Chamber of Commerce until Bob graduated from OSU’s School of Business and Technology in 1950. Bob was offered a number of jobs, but he soon realized that the biggest opportunities involved moving to big cities back East or in the Midwest, and he much preferred life not only in Oregon but specifically in Corvallis. When an opportunity arose through Pat’s parents to take on co-ownership of the Monroe Hardware Store, Bob and Pat moved to Monroe to run the store from 1950 to 1953. After selling the store, they returned to Corvallis, where Bob began an insurance brokerage.

the Blair family: clockwise from bottom left:  Lori, Susie, Nancy, Pat, Doug and Bob.Pat and Bob raised four children: Douglas, born October 8, 1951; Lori on August 15, 1953; Nancy on April 5, 1957; and Susie, born March 27, 1960.  Both of Bob’s parents were involved in music, so it comes as no surprise that music was a big part of his life.  He began singing with a barbershop quartet at Oregon State, with a group that went on to compete at the national level, and continued with other groups throughout his life. He played bass and sang for many years in combos and big bands, especially the Albany Swing Band, which played music from the 1940s. He was a member of the Corvallis Church of the Good Samaritan, where he served on the vestry and sang in the choir for more than twenty years. Many people in the community remember Bob singing the “Star Spangled Banner” at local events, and he sang at many weddings and funerals.

Due to his deep commitment to his country, one of Bob’s primary civic involvements was with the American Legion, serving as commander of Corvallis Post 11. He worked actively with the Beaver Boys State Program, which provides an opportunity for young men to learn about the democratic process and to participate in a mock government legislative session. He received the Moritz “Mac” McShannon Beaver Boys State Trophy for outstanding work in the program. Bob was the person to call when a flag was needed anywhere in town, and it was Bob, along with other American Legion volunteers, who placed flags on all the graves of veterans in the local cemetery. He was commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 640 and was named a life member of the post. He was also a life member of the Marine Corps League, Santiam Detachment, in Albany, and a member of the Forty and Eight Voiture Local Number 727, past Chef De Gare in 1980. Bob was actively involved in OSU’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, serving as secretary and treasurer of the Alumni Association. He served as fraternity corporation board president and was chairman of the Building Committee for the fraternity’s new house on Harrison Boulevard in 1956. 

Bob was a member of the Corvallis Rotary Club, acting as song leader for several years. He was a member of the Corvallis Elk and Corvallis Moose lodges and the Corvallis Country Club, past president of the Tillicum Dance Club, and a member of the Benton County Republican Club. He was a charter member of the Timberhill Athletic Club. Bob’s friends knew him also as a gourmet chef. The Corvallis Gazette-Times once published an article about Bob’s prowess in the kitchen, and he was selected as a Chef of the West in Sunset magazine.

In memory of Bob, Pat and her children established the Robert R. Blair Memorial Fund in 1990 to provide Boys State scholarships to Benton County youth.  Pat died in April 2002.