Blair remembered for influencing Bluffton development

cconley@islandpacket.comOctober 9, 2012 

Don Blair, a longtime Bluffton Planning Commission member who helped guide the town through annexations and development, died Sept. 30 at a Charleston hospital. He was 89.

Blair had heart problems leading up to his death, said Marge Blair, his wife of 41 years.

An architect and builder, Blair left San Francisco for Hilton Head Island in 1973. He worked with Charles Fraser, founder of Sea Pines, and built homes for the Sea Pines Co. on Hilton Head and in other Lowcountry resort communities.

Years later, he formed The Blair Co. home-building business with his son, Dave.

Blair was appointed to Bluffton's Planning Commission in 1999, just as the town began grappling with annexation and rapid residential and commercial development. He served on numerous other town committees over the years.

"He really enjoyed the town of Bluffton," Marge Blair said. "It was really important to him that it grow up in an ... organized manner."

Former mayor Emmett McCracken recalled Blair playing a key role in negotiating the annexation agreement with Palmetto Bluff, an upscale resort and residential community.

"He seemed to have been in important places from that time forward," McCracken said. "Although his name is not on things around Bluffton, he has influenced greatly what Bluffton looks and feels like."

Mayor Lisa Sulka said Tuesday that Blair brought an "objective" view to the Planning Commission and helped craft the town's development codes.

"He played a huge part in what we are today," she said.

Marge Blair described her husband as "passionate about the things that interested him," noting that the town and his family were among his greatest interests. She said he loved his grandchildren and had recently begun working on painting and collage projects.

Blair was born in Washington and moved to Oregon as a teenager. He volunteered for the U.S. Navy during World War II, serving on a PT boat in the Philippines. After returning home, he earned his degree in architecture.

He is survived by his wife; five children, including four from a previous marriage; 12 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

A celebration of his life will be at 3 p.m. on Oct. 20 at the McCracken residence at 58 Stock Farm Road.

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