Blair, Louis B.
Louis B. Blair, formerly of Cedar Rapids, died Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, in Iowa City at nearly 103 years of age.
Born Dec. 24, 1909, in Cincinnati, to Louis Gillette and Charlotte Bliss Blair, he graduated in 1932 from Maryville College in Tennessee. There he became engaged to sophomore Ernestine Melissa Smith, whom he married in 1935 and cherished for 75 years, until her death in 2007.
During the Depression, while pursuing graduate studies at the University of Cincinnati, Mr. Blair served as administrative assistant at Cincinnati General Hospital (now University Hospital). Successively, he was appointed CEO at Lawrence County General Hospital in Ironton, Ohio, and the Ohio State University Hospital, Columbus. In a 1948 move to Cedar Rapids, he became CEO at St. Luke’s, where he worked until 1975.
Following his retirement, Mr. Blair served as special consultant for the Health and Welfare Division of the United Methodist Church and as its liaison officer with 75 United Methodist-related hospitals in the U.S. and India. His assignments included six-month residential terms of service to rehabilitate struggling hospitals in Lucknow, India and El Paso, Texas. He later served as interim director of the MethWick Retirement Residence in Cedar Rapids. He was an active member of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids until 1998, when he and Ernestine moved to the Oaknoll Retirement Residence in Iowa City.
Mr. Blair was a member of the American College of Health Care Executives and a Life Member of the American Hospital Association and the Iowa Hospital Association. He was a past president of the National Association of Methodist Hospitals and Homes and of the Upper Midwest Hospital Conference and served two terms as president of the IHA. He served on the boards and/or committees of the AHA, as well as the American Protestant Hospital Association, and of the Blue Cross Plans in Ohio and Iowa. He was an honorary member of the Linn County Medical Society, and a member for more than 60 years of the Cedar Rapids Rotary Club, in which he was both a past president and a Paul Harris Fellow. The author of numerous articles on hospital administration and health care policies, Mr. Blair wrote a series of columns on health care reform for The Gazette, the Des Moines Register and national publications.
Mr. Blair’s professional and community activities always demonstrated his high regard for ethical conduct, commitment to social justice and compassion for others. He was known for his fine sense of humor and frequent, extraordinary acts of kindness. He valued his many long friendships with co-workers in the field of health care and was honored by the esteem they showed in turn. He only wished he were more successful with politicians as he worked on health care reform.
Survivors include five children, Alice Blair Riley of Indianola;, Mary Blair Moser (Charles) of San Francisco, John C. Blair (Becky) of Canberra, Australia, Ginny Blair of Iowa City and Yasmina Vinci Manning (Robert) of Boston; eight grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and several nephews and nieces.
He was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, his wife and his son-in-law, Joseph L. Riley.
The family of Louis B. Blair is grateful to Iowa City Hospice and all of the Oaknoll staff who so generously, gently, thoughtfully and cheerfully cared for him and for Ernestine for many years.
No services are planned at this time.
Memorials may be made to Iowa City Hospice, the Oaknoll Foundation or a charity of the donor’s choice.
Online condolences may be sent for his family through the web at www.gayandciha.com.
Published in The Gazette Nov. 17, 2012.