DeKALB - John Peter Blair, 93, formerly of rural Clare, Ill., died on Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013 at Oakcrest DeKalb Area Retirement Center in DeKalb.
He was born on April 19, 1920 at home in Malta Township, to Robert and Antoinette (Larsen) Blair. John graduated from Malta High School and attended Northern Illinois University. He was an astute man, a deep thinker and an avid card counter who learned to play bridge in his 80s.
Beloved by family and friends, John was a full-time farmer and full-time caregiver to his ailing brother and his widowed mother. His quiet strength, unfailing good humor and generosity of spirit made him universally well-liked.
John was a favorite at family gatherings. He amazed his young cousins by lighting pinwheels on the fence of the family farm for Fourth of July celebrations. The farm, on Annie Glidden Road near Old State, was just far enough from DeKalb that folks who grew tired of their pets tended to release them nearby. Over the years, Blossom (a beautiful collie), Mike (a sturdy German Shepherd) and Blackie (a cocker spaniel who loved to follow the tractor) all became part of the Blair family.
In addition to rescuing canines, John could often be found on snowy winter nights pulling the cars of hapless travelers out of the ditch. He worked with neighboring farmers to get the crops in, as everyone did in those days, but John did it with a particular grace, becoming a mentor and special friend to namesake Arthur John Bingham who lived across the road. Later, cousin Jim Larsen also named a son after John.
John enjoyed sharing his knowledge of family history with his cousins. He helped research and record genealogy on the Blair side (traced back to Barrickshire, Scotland) and the Orput-Larsen side. He enjoyed drives in the country to show the younger folks places of significance to the family in Malta, South Grove and Orput Grove.
John had a deep love of nature and enjoyed taking walks at the Wilkinson-Renwick Marsh bordering his farm. He traveled to Denmark at age 74 and took special pleasure in walking the trails his Grandfather Larsen walked.
In 2000, John moved to Oakcrest where he made many friends, and relished playing cards daily. He was deeply grateful for the caring staff at the retirement center who enabled him to continue an active lifestyle to the very end.
John is survived by cousins, James (Glenna) Larsen and their sons Eric and John, of Bend and Portland, Ore.; Joy (Dana) Florestano of Indianapolis, Ind., and Coralie Guilford of Appleton, Wis.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother Robert Blair, who was a sculptor.
Visitation will be from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10 at Quiram-Sycamore Funeral Home, 1245 Somonauk St., Sycamore, followed by a memorial service at 1:30 p.m. at Oakcrest DeKalb Area Retirement Center, DeKalb. Burial service will follow at Malta Cemetery at 3:30 p.m.
Memorial contributions may be made to DeKalb County Forest Preserve District, 200 N. Main St., Sycamore, IL 60178, marked "for Wilkinson-Renwick Marsh." To send a condolence or share a memory, visit olsonfh.com.