Robert “Bob” A. Blair, 67, passed away Nov. 24, 2012, at Queen of the Valley Medical Center, in Napa. He was born Jan. 7, 1945, in Omaha, Neb., to Ralph Ledwich and Arlene Elizabeth Blair.
Bob spent most of his youth in Broken Bow, Neb., graduating from Broken Bow High School in 1963. He attended Dana College, in Blair, Neb.; however, his focus was on flying. While working at New Holland in Grand Island, Neb., he pursued his goal and was employed by Grand Island Aviation Center. The Grand Island Airport was his home away from home, and he carried those happy memories and associations with him throughout life.
He married Janet L. Christensen on Jan. 6, 1973, in Grand Island. Two daughters were born to them, Melissa in 1975 and Jessica in 1978.
While he enjoyed instructing and charter work, Heinzman Engineering offered Bob the opportunity to begin his corporate flying career. As a pilot, never wanting his name in the paper, it was unavoidable when N501HE was hijacked on Easter Sunday, 1976.
The ordeal culminated in Denver, Colo., after nine hours of Bob and a mechanic being held hostage. Some closure to this harrowing event came 22 years later in San Francisco, when Bob had the honor to meet and thank the FBI special agent in charge who saved his life.
The Blair family came to Napa in 1979 for another adventure as an instructor for IASCO (Japan Airlines) at the Napa Airport. Bob was soon in the charter business again with Western Airmotive in Oakland, Calif., which led to his final corporate job with Kelleher Lumber Company, San Rafael.
Retirement came at the end of 2005, after nearly 25 years of serving the Kelleher family. Piloting their Cheyenne 400 was the ultimate highlight of his career.
Bob was a member of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, and a member of Free & Accepted Masons, carrying on a family tradition. In retirement, he enjoyed socializing with his Napa Airport buddies. He was proud of his career and of the many friends he had made all over the country, but his greatest fulfillment was his family and becoming a grandpa.
Bob is survived by his wife, Janet, of Napa; children Melissa and Derek Lehnecke of Napa, and Jessica and Alex Paredes of Fremont; grandchildren Tyler and Koby Lehnecke, and Emma Paredes; brother Bruce and Rebecca Blair of Beaverton, Ore.; sister Mary Blair of Napa; niece Suzanne Blair of Portland, Ore.; nephew Brian Blair of Tucson, Ariz.; aunt H. Sylvia Christensen of Arlington, Va.; cousins Thomas and Patti Christensen of Davenport, Iowa, John and Mary “Ditto” Christensen of Leonardtown, Md., Vicki Christensen of Vienna, Va., and David Blair of Cherokee, Iowa; parents-in-law Raymond and Rhoda Christensen of Grand Island, Neb.; in-laws Melvin and Marlys Sems of Grand Island, Neb., Judy and Rick Hiser of Menifee, Calif., and Dan and Rosanne Christensen of Wolbach, Neb., Cindy and Peter Luth of Lincoln, Neb., Sherri and Brent Karley of Austin, Texas; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Among those preceding him in death were his parents, sister-in-law and brother-in-law Lana and Burel Doll, and most recently, cousin James E. Christensen, Jr., and cousin-in-law Dianna “DeeGee” Blair.
A memorial service will be at 2 p.m., Dec. 2, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 1917 Third St., Napa with Rev. Canon Stephen M. Carpenter officiating.
Memorials may be made to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church Endowment Fund; Queen of the Valley Medical Center Foundation (queensfoundation.org) for the Peggy Herman Neuroscience Fund; ambers-angels.org; or donor’s choice. Condolences to the family may be left at ClaffeyandRota.com.