San Diego: Remembering Local Hero and Political Giant Dr. Willie Blair

By Lester McCurtis

Dr. Willie Blair left an impact on the San Diego community fighting for racial equality in San Diego, California, and in the US Congress. He was a transformational leader of the San Diego chapter of the Black American Political Association of California (BAPAC). He was first San Diegan elected as state President of BAPAC. He helped former San Diego Mayor Maureen O’Connor to get elected and worked on her staff. In addition to working with the former mayor, he was special assistant to former Congressman Bob Filner, focusing on Veterans Affairs, such as homelessness. 

All of these are respectable accolades that should be honored.

What resonated the most with me was how Dr. Blair physically and emotionally touched my life. I requested a meeting with him to discuss how I could better serve the organization as a BAPAC member. He was truly impressed with my background, knowledge, experience and education as a Holistic practitioner. As a result, he offered me a position on the executive board of BAPAC. We shared some similarities seeing that are both veterans of the US Navy. More importantly, he served during Vietnam. He also shared the innate ability of “Nkyinkyin” (an African term) meaning a selfless need to reach out and give a hand up to fellow brothers, which is also a symbol of toughness, adaptability, and the ability to withstand hardships. According to my analytics, he almost always read my holistic health related communications.

When he showed up for an event that recognized my literary accomplishments by the Major of Chula Vista, I was elated. I knew then this was a man vested in human value.

Rest in peace my brother, for you have touched many lives.

Born and raised in Knoxville, Tenn., Blair completed his undergraduate studies at Maryville University in Tennessee. After college, the Officer’s Candidate School at Newport, Rhode Island, gave him an officer’s commission into the Navy. Blair served for eight years, including a tour of duty in Vietnam as a small boat leader, where he participated in the evacuation of Saigon and Cambodia in May of 1975. Blair moved to San Diego shortly after his honorable discharge in 1981, and earned a master of business administration and a subsequent doctorate in humanities and arts from Point Loma Nazarene University.

He is survived by his daughter, Deborah Smith, his siblings Janet, Trece and Roger, and a number of nieces and nephews. No cause of death was given at this time. Blair was 69 years old.

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