It came like most bad news comes, in a random moment on an otherwise nothing-special day, turning it into one of those days on a short list of days in your life that remake your personal history.
First was the call that something was wrong, and 12 hours later, Blair was gone. His day had begun like most, with breakfast and busy tasks, and then he sat down on the sofa and his sweet little heart stopped.
I don't know why I have suddenly begun calling him Blair. For 23 years and 2 months he has been "Dad". I started calling him Dad when Guy and I became engaged. It was an easy shift. Blair was a cheerful, spunky little guy with boundless energy. He had lots of stories, and always met me with a smile and a hug. I actually got to know him in little doses in the halls of the church over a few years. I knew him a long time before I fell in love with his son. I remember just at the beginning of my relationship with Guy, before we were even sweeties, Blair and I stood chatting in the hall at church when Guy came up and casually joined in. His familiarity with Blair sort of surprised me, until I realized this was his son. Bonus points for Guy. Great genes.
And now, after 23 years in this family, a proud member of the Holman clan, I thought I knew Blair. But I didn't.
Guy and I were given the opportunity to help with Blair's Eulogy. We were sent a few paragraphs prepared by Blair's brother, Doyle. And to be honest with you, Blair himself pretty much wrote the rest. Guy found Blair's life history that,, sadly, we had not gotten around to reading yet. Gosh, I wish I had. In reading it, I had so many questions. I learned so much. I had NO IDEA what an amazing person this tiny man was. A-MA-ZING.
And I want to share him with all of you.
This was Blair.
But to me,
he was Dad.
The Eulogy of Blair C Holman - Given by Doyle Holman at Blair’s Funeral on February 12th, 2018
Blair C Holman was born January 27, 1931 in Sugar City, Madison County, Idaho, the second of eight children, to Darwin Rider and Ethel Ellen Gardner Holman. He was blessed on May 3, 1931 and baptized on May 6, 1939. His siblings were: his older brother Max, Lueen, myself, Larry, Deanna, Viola and little Brenda, who passed away at age three. As a family we were sealed to our parents on September 25, 1946.
Blair attended elementary school in Sugar City and went to Sugar Salem High School, where he was Junior class president, the 1949 Student Body President, and competed on the debate team. I remember the box full of topics he had prepared, so that when called up to debate a subject, he was always ready. As the school served a large farming community, Blair was a proud “Beetdigger”. During High School, he played many sports, including track, baseball and basketball, sometimes running directly from one practice to the next. But he really shined in football. Yes, he was quite small in his #1 jersey, but he was featured in the newspapers for the amount of yardage he ran every time they gave him the ball. When people couldn't understand how it was possible, he replied, “When you have those big tough farmers on the line and they open up a hole big enough to drive a mac truck through, it's easy to run up yardage.” It didn’t hurt that he only weighed 115 lbs and could slip between the other players easily. They won the sixth district championship two years in a row, once with a score of 378 to 59! That year the students danced down main street in celebration. Blair lettered in both football and track, and was the fastest runner on the track team his senior year. But little known to most, he was also in the Thespian Club, and acted and was on the crew of a few plays and even an opera, and for a spell even took up the saxophone. He was a true Renaissance Man.
As a youth, Blair was a hard worker. He built a few muscles on his uncle’s farm weeding sugarbeets, and would sometimes help his father to finish his mail route after harsh winter storms. He worked in the fields in the fall, and at the cheese factory in the summer. Of that job, he said, “I didn’t date much during these summers because the smell of making cheese would get into your system and it was hard to get the smell out. We didn’t have cologne to cover up the smell!” One summer he worked herding turkeys on the sand dunes, where the boys lived in a tent and would take the turkeys out each morning to scrounge for crickets. Blair reflected, “This was probably the worst job I did during my lifetime.” Perhaps it was because the boys would gobble up their week’s worth of food too quickly, and he always felt hungry. In high school, and at only 115 pounds, Blair worked as the potato bagger on the back of his uncle’s combine, bagging 2000 - 85 lb sacks of potatoes a day. Usually a job for a grown man, after Blair undertook the task, it became common practice in their area for a youth to operate the bagger.
Blair attended Ricks College in Rexburg for 3 semesters on a scholarship for prospective teachers, where he dove into sports once more, winning the 125 lb. wrestling and boxing championship. He was endowed in the Idaho Falls Temple on January 3, 1951 in preparation to fulfill his mission call to The British Isles Mission, which included all of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. He entered the Mission home in Salt Lake City and was set apart as a missionary by Spencer W. Kimball. He had the amazing privilege of traveling to and from England aboard the famous luxury ship, The Queen Mary. While on his mission, a sister in the ward where he was serving was organizing a choir, and insisted that Elder Holman join. He tried to tell her that he couldn't sing, but she believed that everyone is capable of singing, so he went to the practice. Fairly soon, she told him that he didn't have to be in the choir, after all! Blair asked why she had insisted he be in the choir, and she replied that since he had legs like a canary, she thought he must sing like one, too.
Blair was drafted into the Army after his mission, and was stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington. Though it was from 1953-1955 and during the Korean War, he counted it as a huge blessing that he was never sent to Korea. In fact, he was one of three returned missionaries who were the only soldiers in their divisions not to be sent to fight. In his life history, Blair said, “The best thing that happened to me in the military was finding my sweetheart and wife of these many years”. While stationed in Washington, Blair first saw a pretty, 16 year old redhead named Myrna at the Olympia Ward. Some time later he asked Myrna out for a date to the stake dance in Tacoma, however on the way to her house, he got lost and arrived late. Then after picking her up, the car broke down. They ended up hitching a ride with a bus load of soldiers, and after the dance was over, Myrna had to get a ride home with someone else. After all that, she still agreed to see him again. It was, appropriately, at another dance, the Green and Gold ball in 1954, that Blair proposed to Myrna, and she accepted.
Blair and Myrna were married August 17, 1954 in the Idaho Falls Temple. As Myrna was endowed at the same time, it made for a really long day! Blair and Myrna had Kahri, the first of their five children when they had been married 5 years, and it was another 5 years before Kathi joined the family. Both times they had already begun the process to adopt a child when they learned they were expecting. Karen, Guy, and Greg followed in the next seven years.
After leaving the army, Blair had begun work in the Banking and Loan industry, a field he would work in for 30 years. He attended the American Institute of Banking, where again he excelled, achieving all three certificates offered there with honors. He went on to work as a teacher of Consumer Lending for the institute for several years. He attended many continuing education courses in the banking field, waking very early on Saturday mornings to complete his studies so that it would not interfere with his time with family. He graduated, of course, with honors. He eventually finished his associates degree at Citrus College in 1988.
Blair was ordained a High Priest on May 29, 1962 by Alvin R. Dyer and later as a Bishop on September 17, 1967. He was asked to preside as a Stake President on September 19, 1971 by Gordon B. Hinckley, and later as a counselor in the Arcadia Mission Presidency . Blair was set apart as a Sealer in the Los Angeles Temple by Robert D. Hales, and later served as a sealer in the Redlands Temple, working almost 20 years in these assignments. As a temple sealer, he had the opportunity to perform the marriages of two of his children and three of his grandchildren. He was passionately committed to his temple service, and rarely missed a shift. At different points in his service in the church, Blair was also Elder’s Quorum President, Stake Clerk, Gospel Doctrine Teacher, High Councilman, and High Priest Group Leader. But in all his church service, he felt that his 73 years as a home teacher was the most rewarding, and he always tried to achieve 100% of his visits.
I remember while Blair served as Stake President, the church was hosting Know Your Religion Series, held at stake centers in the area. I cannot tell you how many times as I attended one of these meetings, while waiting for the meeting to start, someone would mistake me for Blair. I would have to immediately inform them that they were not talking to the Stake President and I was his brother!
Blair served for 2 years as a City Council member while he lived in Baldwin Park. He also established himself as a real estate broker, property developer, and in his later years as a commercial properties manager. Blair retired from his job just this past December. Somehow, amid all of this, he managed to serve for 27 years on the executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America San Gabriel Valley Council, serving 3 years as the Chairman of Scout-O-Rama. For his many years of dedicated service to the Boy Scouts, he was awarded one of the highest honors of scouting; The Silver Beaver.
Blair’s children remember his dedication to his career and his many callings, but they also have cherished memories of waking up on Saturday mornings to a box of fresh donuts and the croon of The Sons of the Pioneers singing Cool Water. They remember family work time on Saturdays, usually followed by a trip to the movies, mini-golf or a restaurant. Blair made sure the family gathered for games on Sunday nights, and always took his sweetheart out on dates each Friday evening. Family vacations were important to Blair, and they traveled to most of the western states during these adventures. On these trips, he always made sure to find a motel with a swimming pool, and if they arrived too late to go swimming, he would wake the children early the next morning, even in the freezing cold, so that they could swim. Family Home Evening was a time when his children enjoyed his company uninterrupted by outside calls and responsibilities, full of games, music sung around the piano and lessons followed by treats. His kids remember that after Family Home Evening, he sometimes sent them off to bed one by one playing, “Penny, Penny, Who’s Got the Penny”.
Blair loved puzzles, country western music, sports, running - at age 73 he was still running 3 miles a day-, huckleberry pie and listening to his sweetheart sing, and play the piano and organ. He built a religious library of over 800 books. But amid all this, he sums up his own life by saying he would never have been able to fulfill all of that he had “except for the great support of a loving wife. She has shouldered the major responsibility for raising the children. She has been the major influence in my life, and all that I am I owe to her...”
Blair is survived by myself, our three sisters Lueen, Deanna and Viola, his sweetheart, Myrna, his five children and their spouses, 19 of his 20 grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren, who will all miss him greatly. He was a good man.
I loved Dad. I will miss him very much.