Joseph Edward Blair

Published 5:18 pm Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Joseph Edward Blair passed away Friday, May 27, 2022, at age 71, after a lengthy illness. He was the son and last born of the late Ossie Southern Blair and Thomas Francis Blair. He is survived by Catherine B. Cartlege, Pearl B. Harrell, Robert A. Blair, David M. Blair and many nieces and nephews.

He is predeceased by his brothers and sisters, Juanita B Stine, Thomas F. Blair, Mary E. Blair, Virginia B. Cox, Cornelius S. Blair, William P. Blair, George M. Blair and James M. Blair.

Growing up in Suffolk and graduating from Suffolk High School, he attended and graduated from William and Mary College. After graduating in 1972, then serving in the military for two years, Joe’s talents led him to work for the Carter Administration in Washington, D.C., in the Office of Management and Budget. Later, a door opened for him to serve as a multi-lingual tour guide in the United States capital building, which allowed him to do what he loved, to use his gift of speaking many languages with great ease. The end result was that when called upon, which was frequently, he led special tours because of his ability to talk about the capital building in 161 different languages and converse with multitudes of foreign visitors in their native tongues as they toured the capital building with him. Joe’s first introduction to another language began in the Suffolk public school system when French was offered for a few years to elementary age students as a trial. Joe was a beneficiary of this endeavor.

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While in Washington, in his spare time, Joe spent many hours gardening. After observing a derelict green space that he passed daily for some time, he decided the area would become his project. He worked diligently to improve it and eventually enticed others to help. The result was a beautiful rejuvenated green space, a park with interesting plantings and trees with meandering paths that became a source of local pride, one for all to enjoy.

Joe also loved antiques. Collecting and refinishing them became another hobby, in addition to keeping the large collection of brass items that he loved so much, polished to a brilliant shine. 

Yet another love of Joe’s was playing the piano, which also began at an early age. During Christmas gatherings for many years, he enjoyed accompanying the family singing carols together. A man of many talents, Joe was also a Mensa, loved to travel and enjoy meals at ethnic restaurants wherever he was.

The family will receive friends from 11 a.m. to noon on Thursday, June 2, at R W Baker Funeral Home and Crematory, 509 W. Washington. A graveside service with the Rev. Dale Peterson officiating will be private.

In lieu of flowers, memorials made be made to Riddick’s Folly, 510 N. Main St., Suffolk, VA 23434. Condolences may be registered at RWBakerFH.com.