Robert Floyd Blair was born to Floyd and Mildred (Bonser) Blair of Youngstown, Alta. on Jan. 25, 1924.
He passed away in sleep at his Bethany Meadows residence in Camrose, Alta. on Nov. 24, 2020 at the age of 96 years.
Robert (Bob) was the third child of five and grew up 12 miles south west of Youngstown.
His growing up years entailed the thriftiness and improvising ingenuity and simply “doing without” mentality and stamina for survival of the families of that era.
He attended the one-room school of Crocus Plains two miles from his home until it closed when he reached high school.
He took one year of correspondence while working through the winter for a neighbour, then got a short summer job picking rocks on the Special Areas road crew and paid his way to attend Youngstown School and board in the dormitory to complete his education.
Incidentally, this is where he met a certain pretty girl named Stella Coad who lived two miles east of Youngstown (and later became his wife Nov. 2, 1946 at the Nazarine Church in Youngstown after the war ended).
By 1941, during the spring of his Grade 12, the government instituted conscription.
Two critical factors played into his next decision, one being that if he signed up now he wouldn’t have to write that daunting English exam and, the other being that his English heritage took pride volunteering to serve one’s king and country over being conscripted.
The RCAF was the only military force open for volunteering so that is what he did. (By the way, he was credited with a diploma based on assignments.)
The next order of business provided the opportunity to ride the train with a few other recruits to the big town of Hanna 30 miles west for attestation, medical checkup and other requirements.
The boys stayed overnight in the Seymour Hotel and for the first time in their lives experienced the wonderment of flush toilets and running water from a tap! He says they turned the tap on and off, on and off in amazement of seeing water run like that!
Bob became a corporal and was employed as a training instructor for bombing, stationed mostly at Dafoe, Sask. throughout the remainder of WWII.
Bob’s sole ambition was to be a farmer. He was able to take over his deceased Great Uncle Tom Western’s homestead and it was close to his father’s property so that they farmed together for a while.
He ranched and farmed here for the next 53 years. It was here seven children were born and raised, learning the meaning of work and perseverance, integrity and honesty.
Bob was well known for his inventiveness and ingenuity in farming practices as well as making some of the most creative playground equipment for his yard and that he took to the camp in season.
In the community at that time, the influence of the lives of several God trusting men and families gave credence to a “new life” and “peace” found in Jesus Christ.
In August of 1936, Bob was baptized in the Berry Creek, confessing his faith in the Sovereign God and in the atonement for his sins by the Lord Jesus Christ.
This choice gave meaning and a fulfilling purpose to Bob’s life. Serving his church’s needs and interests, including the Plover Lake Bible Camp, and his community through Credit Union, UFA, Home & School, REA and community events were all meaningful and rewarding activities in his life.
Bob strongly believed in “searching the scriptures” and encouraged others to do the same.
November of 1982 brought tragedy to his family, as his fifth child, Bernice was involved in a car accident and left with a traumatic brain injury for some 36 years.
In 1998 the farm was sold to a ranching company called LOBO Ranches of Cochrane, Alta. who bought it for grassland only and not taking up residence, so Bob and Stella stayed on until the next spring when they found availability in Hillside Village condominium for seniors in Camrose.
They made many very good friends and continued his enjoyment of building and creating and greatly enjoyed his fellowship at the Kingman church.
Bob and Ed Grue built a number of things during their time there. This included building and installing a water fountain and sprinkling system on Mirror Lake for their north side of the lake.
On another occasion they enjoyed building a Hillside Hillbillies cart, with double barrelled shotgun and live car horn, to participate in the Camrose bed car races fundraiser.
Another effort of Bob and Ed’s was the building of the 30-some foot Christmas Tree for Hillside’s Christmas light-up, complete with carollers and music, accompanied by a lovely painted crèche by Evelyn Long.
A second Christmas tree of the same design beams its shining star on a hill at the Quiet Hills Ranch of the Schultz’s.
The winter of 2008 saw the two of them, ages 84 and 86 years, even out in -25 C. weather diligently breaking a beautiful pair of two year old Percherons to drive, resulting in the condo folks and others enjoying hayrides in the spring.
Bob was an inventive and mechanically minded man. He seemed to have an innate inclination to be able to understand and improve ways of doing farm work to be more efficient and convenient.
Bob also found great satisfaction in making playground equipment for the enjoyment of young and old.
He will be well remembered for the thrills and pleasures the play equipment provided for so many, including his grandchildren when they visited the farm.
In Sept of 2017, Bob moved to Seasons condos which provided his meals and housekeeping. In the spring of 2018 Bob gave up his van and driving license which was the beginning of his loss of independence.
A very faithful friend, Darren Lockhart and sometimes others, took him to church in Kingman every Sunday as well as to other church events.
For his 95th birthday Bob hosted a big birthday dinner at the Norseman Inn, his favourite dining restaurant and even did a 30 second jig for his guests!
Bob’s final move was in July of this year to a nursing care facility, Bethany Meadows, until his passing.
Bob is survived by his children, Charlotte (Dave) Curtis, Brad (Charlene) Blair, Jim (Marlene) Blair, Ken (Darlene) Blair, Marj Heatherington, and Thelma (Ian) Bird; 10 grandchildren and two step grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren and four step great grandchildren.
He is also survived by one sister, Barbara Gurnett of Sherwood Park and one sister-in-law, Jane (Blair) Hall of Toronto.
Bob was predeceased by his wife of 60 years, Stella in 2007, his daughter, Bernice Blair in 2019, two infant great-granddaughters, Elizabeth Adsett in 2013 and Emmerson Blair in 2020.
He is also predeceased by three of his siblings, Ella (Les) McKellar, and brothers, Cecil (Chrissie) and Harry Blair.
Bob will be laid to rest Sat. Nov. 28, 2020 alongside his beloved wife in the Youngstown Cemetery with Pastor Richard Schultz of Kingman Baptist Church presiding over a short graveside service for family only, given the severe restrictions for Covid-19 at this time.
Memorial donations will be gratefully accepted to Plover Lake Bible Camp, Kingman Baptist Church or to the charity of one’s choice.