Friends remember Lee Blair
February 25, 2014 · 0 Comments
By Jenn Watt
Humble, honest, nature-loving – the traits associated with the late Lee Blair are grounded in the very earth he spent his life moving.
Blair died at age 80 on Feb. 12 at a hospital in London, Ont., but as his obituary reads, his heart was always in the Highlands.
Known for a life spent literally building Haliburton County with his company Blair Sand and Gravel, he had a connection to most of the area’s people and places.
“He was a great individual who was almost a household word in Haliburton,” said Dysart Reeve Murray Fearrey.
“He probably did more driveways and septics and dug more basements than anybody,” he said.
Blair’s trucks were, and still are, prolific around the county – even though he sold the business in 1993.
“Our families go back,” said Barry Boice, who now owns Blair Sand and Gravel. “My grandfather sold International Trucks way back for years and years and Lee’s father bought trucks off of him.”
Boice had been running his escavating company for a couple of years before buying Blair’s company. He kept the name because of the good reputation it brought.
“He was one of the first guys to take his business to another level,” said Boice. “Lots of guys had a truck or a dozer. Well, Lee went the extra steps and ended up having quite a few people working for him.”
One of the most well-known projects Blair was involved with was building the Pinestone’s golf course.
Gary Warburton worked for him at the time and remembers Blair as a kind, giving person with a deep love for animals.
“He was a great guy. A super guy. He was very kind and very honest,” he said.
Warburton has a list of stories detailing Blair’s love of animals, including putting off construction to allow baby robins to hatch in a nest built in a boom; stopping a gravel truck on the road to rescue baby groundhogs and providing homes for area raccoons.
“I was in the garage about 20 years ago greasing one of his trucks and a raccoon came in the garage,” Warburton remembers. “I came out and said, ‘a damn raccoon is in the garage,’ and he said, ‘Oh, that’s Jerry. Leave him alone. He’s got a bed upstairs.’”
Longtime friend Deeno Pearsell spoke at Blair’s funeral on Feb. 15, adding several more anecdotes about wildlife.
“Lee rarely showed extremes of emotion, except when it came to animals,” Pearsall wrote in his speech. “Every deer hunting season, Lee got anxious – putting up signs, checking for poachers, talking to his favourite deer friends telling them to stay safe.”
Above all, said Pearsall, Blair’s priorities were first his family – wife Marie and daughter Marnnie.
“A committed family man,” Blair was a devoted husband and loving father, Pearsell said.
“Whenever Lee and a friend parted after a visit, Lee rarely said goodbye,” Pearsell said, “Instead of goodbye, Lee’s usual parting … was ‘have a care now.’ My tribute to Lee ends with his own sincere friendly words – ‘have a care now.’”