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Murray Reid Blair Jr.

Obituary
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    - Garret Sawtell
  • "Karen, I've thought of you all week. I'm sorry I was not..."
  • "Karen. We are very sorry to hear of Murray's passing. Our..."
  • "May the memory of Murray and the special times you shared..."
    - Ina & Tom Malesky

Blair, Murray Reid Jr. VISCHER FERRY, N.Y. Murray Reid Blair Jr. of Vischer Ferry, 81, beloved husband of Karen R. Hitchcock, passed away peacefully on Saturday, February 20, 2010 at St. Peter's Hospital, Albany, N.Y., surrounded by his loving family. Dr. Blair was born on July 13, 1928 in Somerville, Mass. He was the son of the late Murray Reid Blair Sr. and Olga (Purdy) Blair. Dr. Blair graduated from Somerville High School and Tufts College. He received his Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from Tufts University School of Medicine, and joined the faculty there in the department of pharmacology. Dr. Blair had a lifelong commitment to the improvement of medical education in the United States. He was appointed a visiting professor at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine as coordinator of the project on medical education, and was instrumental in the design of a new curriculum at the Medical College of Virginia, where he was appointed associate professor of pharmacology and also served as acting dean of medicine. Throughout his career, he was a committed teacher and mentor to hundreds of health care professionals. Dr. Blair was also a talented and innovative research scientist who was appointed director of research and development at Astra Pharmaceutical Products, Inc., an international pharmaceutical company. During his tenure of 11 years, he pioneered several revolutionary techniques for designing, testing and evaluating new local anesthetics and anti-arrhythmic drugs. Prior to Dr. Blair's work, microcomputers had not been fully exploited in pharmaceutical research. His work in developing these computer-based analytical tools greatly advanced the field of drug development. Dr. Blair's foresight also led to the introduction of pharma-cokinetics in pharmaceutical research. This new approach to determining the metabolic pathway of every new drug is now widely used across the industry. Following his career at Astra, Dr. Blair was recruited by Tufts University School of Medicine as associate dean for administration and finance, where he was instrumental in expanding the basic sciences in the medical school, and integrating them into a new school of veterinary medicine. His work was pivotal to the success of this new educational program at Tufts. He was named acting dean at Tufts School of Medicine and later asked to lead the newly-established Sackler Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. As the founding dean of this new college, Dr. Blair led the faculty in the development of policies and programs which ensured its on-going success. In fact, at his farewell party before leaving to assume the associate vice-presidency for academic affairs at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Dr. Blair was accorded the honor of being named the "Action Dean" by the department chairmen of Tufts Medical School. Much loved by students, faculty and colleagues, Dr. Blair had a major impact on medical education in this country and the quality of pharmaceutical research. In his retirement, Dr. Blair served on the board of trustees of Albany College of Pharmacy, and was the director of research and academic programs for the institute for the advancement of health care management at the School of Business at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He was also a committed volunteer consultant to a number of health and technology-related small businesses. He was appointed to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Hazardous Waste Disposal Commission, and was a consultant to numerous health-related governmental agencies. He also was a member of the boards of many environmental and heritage organizations, including being appointed co-chair of the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Committee, part of the New York State Scenic Byways Program. Murray was also a published poet, an avid reader and writer, an accomplished wood carver, and an amateur historian. Known affectionately as "The Mur," his love of conversation and debate was legendary. He was cherished by his many friends of all ages, he was worshiped by his dog Max. Murray touched and changed many lives. He will be so deeply missed. He is survived by his loving wife, Karen R. Hitchcock; and his beloved three children, Susan (Thomas) Sartori of Northboro, Mass., Scott (June) Blair of Hingham, Mass., and M. Reid Blair III of Bedford, Mass.; five grandchildren, Laura, Elisabeth and Mark Sartori, and Megan and Chloe Blair; one brother, Curtis Purdy Blair. He was predeceased by his brother, David Purdy Blair, and his sister, Carol Sawtell. Murray's family would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to the many caring doctors, nurses, technicians and staff members at St. Peter's Hospital, who supported him in his courageous battle during the many difficult weeks of his final illness. His wife and family also extend their deep thanks for the care and support extended to them during this difficult time. Friends and relatives are invited to a memorial service in celebration of Murray's life which will be held on Thursday, February 25 at 11 a.m. at the Christ Community Reformed Church, 1010 Rte. 146, Clifton Park, NY 12065. Friends and relatives are also invited to call at the McVeigh Funeral Home, 208 No. Allen Street, Albany, NY 12206 on Wednesday, February 24 from 4-7 p.m. Contributions, in lieu of flowers, may be made in Murray's memory to the Murray Reid Blair Jr. Founder's Prize for Excellence in Translational Research at the Sackler Graduate School at Tufts University, a prize being established to honor Murray's long commitment to his students and excellence in research and medical education. Checks should be made out to Tufts University and sent to the Office of the Dean, Sackler School, 136 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02111. To leave the family a special message on their guest book; obtain a memorial card or directions; or share a photo or e-card with them, please visit www.mcveighfuneralhome.com
Funeral Home
McVeigh Funeral Home
208 North Allen Street Albany, NY 12206
(518) 489-0188
Published in Albany Times Union from Feb. 23 to Feb. 24, 2010
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