92, of Gulf Stream, Florida and Sewickley, PA, died on Wednesday, April 10, 2013. Son of the late Georgiana Wilson McKee and William Robinson Blair, Jr.; and brother of the late William R. Blair III and Mary Blair Wardrop. Mr. Blair was educated at Shady Side Academy, St. Paul's School, The Hun School, and The University of California at Berkeley. In 1942, Mr. Blair volunteered for the U.S. Navy. After graduation from the aviation training program, he flew fighter aircraft from the aircraft carriers USS Essex and USS Shangri-La in the Pacific theater for the remainder of the war. In February of 1944, Mr. Blair's Hellcat fighter plane was shot down on a raid on Truk Atoll in the Eastern Caroline Islands, and he spent several hours in the water awaiting rescue supported only by a life vest. In a daring rescue he was picked up by a Kingfisher Seaplane, becoming the first American to be rescued from enemy territory in the Pacific theater. Some of his military decorations include two Distinguished Flying Crosses, seven Air Medals, two Navy Presidential Unit Citations, four Asiatic Campaign Medals, and numerous others. After hostilities ended, he continued his service with the U.S. Navy reserve for many years rising to the rank of Commander and Commanding Officer of his squadron at Akron, Ohio Naval Air Station. Mr. Blair's interest in aviation continued through his civilian life. At one time, he flew his own plane round trip from Latrobe, PA, across Greenland into Europe and back again. An avid outdoorsman and multifaceted man, he enjoyed skiing, fishing, boating and photography. Though he enjoyed hunting all animals with his camera, he was strongly opposed to harming any wild creatures. Mr. Blair is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Foster Blair of Sewickley; his son, William Robinson Blair of Park City, Utah; stepson, George Foster McCullough of Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and grandsons, Jonathan Duncan Blair and George Laughlin Blair. A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 2 p.m. in The Presbyterian Church of Sewickley, 414 Grant Street Sewickley, PA 15143. Interment in Allegheny Cemetery will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, 5001 Anger Canyon Road, Kanab, Utah 84741 or University of California Men's Crew Strawberry Center # 4426, Berkeley, California 94720. Arrangements by THE RICHARD D. COLE FUNERAL HOME, INC., 328 Beaver Street, Sewickley, PA 15143.
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Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Apr. 22 to Apr. 24, 2013