Robert A. Blair, 67, passed away Nov. 24, 2012, in Napa, Calif. He was born Jan. 7, 1945, in Omaha, to Arlene and Ralph Blair.
Bob spent many years in Broken Bow, graduating from Broken Bow High School in 1963. He attended Dana College in Blair, however his focus was on flying. While working at New Holland in Grand Island, he pursued his goal and was employed by Grand Island Aviation Center.
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, after nine hours of Bob and a mechanic being held hostage. Some closure to this harrowing event came 22 years later in San Francisco, Calif., when Bob had the honor to meet and thank the FBI Special Agent in Charge who saved his life.
He married Janet L. Christensen Jan. 6, 1973, in Grand Island. Two daughters were born to them; Melissa in 1975, and Jessica in 1978.
The Blair family relocated to Napa, Calif. in 1979, for another adventure as an instructor for IASCO at the Napa Airport. Bob was soon in the charter business again with Western Airmotive in Oakland, which led to his final corporate job with Kelleher Lumber Company. Retirement came at the end of 2005, after nearly 25 years of serving the Kelleher family. Piloting their Cheyenne 400 was the 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. He was proud of his accomplishments and the 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; children, Melissa and Derek Lehnecke of Napa, Calif., Jessica and Alex Paredes of Fremont, Calif.; grandchildren, Tyler and Koby Lehnecke, 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, Virg.; cousins, Thomas and Patti Christensen of Davenport, Iowa, John and Mary “Ditto” Christensen of Leonardtown, Md., Vicki Christensen of Vienna, Virg., and David Blair of Cherokee, Iowa; parents-in-law, Raymond and Rhoda Christensen of Grand Island; in-laws, Marlys and Melvin Sems of Grand Island, Judy and Rick Hiser of Menifee, Calif., Dan and Rosanne Christensen of Wolbach, Cindy and Peter Luth of Lincoln, and Sherri and Brent Karley of Austin, Texas.
Preceding him in death were his parents, and most recently cousin James E. Christensen, Jr,. and cousin-in-law, Dianna “DeeGee” Blair.
A memorial service was Dec. 2, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Napa, Calif. Condolences may be sent to the family online at ClaffeyandRota.com.
Published in Custer County Chief, Dec. 27, 2012