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Blaine Neahr & Margaret Knight (Peg) Rawdon

1923 & 1926 - 2015 Obituary Condolences


Blaine N Rawdon passed away on April 23, 2015. Peg Rawdon, his wife of sixty-six years, passed away one week later, on April 30, 2015. Both Blaine and Peg died peacefully at home, surrounded by family, in the home they designed and built together. Their passing was greatly eased by hospice care.

BLAINE NEAHR RAWDON was born November 1, 1923, in Plainfield, NJ. He was the only child of Blaine Elzar Rawdon and Marie Neahr Rawdon. His father was a vice president of Underwood Typewriter Company. His mother was a field nurse in France during WWI, and later a schoolteacher.

Blaine attended Lower Merion High School outside Philadelphia, and later transferred to Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio, graduating in 1942. While there, he and several classmates searched the atlas for places where the world war would surely never find them. They chose Guadalcanal Island! In the end, twelve classmates applied to Amherst College, and all were accepted. After one semester at Amherst, Blaine was drafted into the Army, after being rejected by the Navy, Marines and Air Force because he was color blind.

His unit landed at Utah Beach on June 6, 1944, and marched through France with Patton's Third Army. He was captured on Christmas Eve, 1944, in the Battle of the Bulge. After four months in captivity, he escaped during a march. Having lost 65 pounds, he spent several months recuperating from the ordeal, and was discharged on November 16, 1945.

In February of 1946, Blaine returned to Amherst College, graduating in 1948 with the (war-delayed) class of '46.

MARGARET KNIGHT (PEG) RAWDON was born October 2, 1926, in Evanston, IL. She was the third of four children of Francis McMaster Knight and Helen Perkins Knight. Her father was a senior vice president of Continental Illinois Bank, an amateur violinist, and trustee and treasurer of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He was instrumental in bringing the CSO to the Ravinia Music Festival. Her mother was named Highland Park Woman of the year, and was a life trustee of the Highland Park Hospital, in addition to managing a large household with four children.

Peg attended Highland Park High School, then transferred to the Emma Willard School in Troy, NY. She graduated in 1944 and entered Smith College that year. At Smith, she majored in art history, graduating in 1948.

PEG AND BLAINE met in college on a blind date, and were married in September, 1948. Blaine entered the Columbia University School of Architecture in 1948. Peg worked in Manhattan for an avant-garde furniture store until the arrival of their first child in 1951. Blaine graduated from Columbia in 1952, and the three moved to Los Angeles, where he worked for Victor Gruen Associates. Later, he and Perry Pearson formed a partnership, Pearson and Rawdon. Concurrently, he taught architecture at the University of Southern California until 1964, when the family (now with three sons and a daughter) moved to Riverside, CA. There Blaine worked for Ruhnau, Evans, Brown and Steinmann. He left Ruhnau in 1969 to partner with Robert E. Brown in Brown + Rawdon Architects. He retired in 1995.

Among Blaine's most significant professional collaborations were the Riverside Downtown Plan, Ben H. Lewis Hall/ Riverside Convention Center, UCR Faculty Club, the Riverside County Robert Presley Detention Center, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church (fondly referred to as "Our Lady of Perpetual Help Savings and Loan", for its non-traditional design). He also designed three noteworthy houses, two for his family (Hollywood, 1957, and Riverside, 1976) and one for his mother (Hollywood, 1960). All three were featured in Sunset Magazine and architecture journals.

Peg, in addition to raising four children, gave many thousands of unpaid volunteer hours to the League of Women Voters, the Youth Service Center, Reach to Recovery (breast cancer support), and Riverside Community Hospital. She served two terms on the board of the Riverside Unified School District. She was later instrumental in the establishment of the first Hospice organization in Riverside, and served as its first President.

After the "nest" emptied, she returned to her love of art, producing many fine pen-and-ink drawings, watercolors, and stoneware sculptures, which were included in shows at the Riverside Art Center. With few exceptions, her subjects were people.

Blaine and Peg were deeply involved with the Riverside community. Blaine was a long-time member and president of the Kiwanis club, and served on the board of the Riverside YWCA. Both were members of the First Congregational Church, Riverside, and gave generously of their time, money and expertise to many of its causes, especially to Project Food, and to the renovation of the church's elegant sanctuary. They shared a practical, get-it-done approach to political and community service. Both also served as scouts and recruiters for their alma maters, believing that a quality education benefits not only the student, but society as a whole.

Their openness and generosity encompassed their social life as well. Over the years, Peg and Blaine accumulated an ever-expanding and varied group of friends of all ages, and their home served for many years as a way-station for traveling friends and relatives, with a meal and bed always available at short notice.

Peg and Blaine are survived by their children, Blaine K. Matthew, Robert and Katharine; three grandchildren; four step-grandchildren; and Peg's brother Robert Knight. Peg was predeceased by her sisters Helen Stuart and Nancy Fischer.

A memorial service will be held at 10 AM on July 4, 2015, at First Congregational Church, Riverside. All are welcome. Their ashes will be interred at Riverside National Cemetery in a private ceremony. The family is thankful that prior to their decline, both Blaine and Peg wrote advance care directives making their wishes known to all who cared for them in their final days. In lieu of flowers, contributions in their names may be made to First Congregational Church.

Published in Press-Enterprise on May 10, 2015
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