My father, Burton Franklin Blair, was born February 26, 1943 in Centreville , Mississippi to Jesse Franklin Blair and Ella Mae White Blair. He grew up in Rayne , Louisiana and graduated from Lafayette High School . He answered the call to preach at age 19 and discovered his love of preaching God's word. He obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Religion and Philosophy from the University of Southern Mississippi . After graduating from college, he went to seminary in Atlanta , Georgia and graduated with a Master of Divinity Degree from Candler School of Theology, Emory University . He received his Doctorate in Homiletics at St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City , Missouri . He also served as a Chaplain in the US Army Reserves for 14 years with the rank of Major.
My father was a phenomenal and outstanding man! First and foremost he had a larger than life personality and a great sense of humor. He was an absolute, unique “living character” one of whom you never forgot once you met him.
He was a prankster who always connected and ministered through laughter. He had an infectious laugh and would be so overcome with laughter at times that he would turn red and lose his breath.
Dad was the absolute example of love, sincerity, acceptance, and compassion that each of us aspired to be. For him it was love of God and love of family that was going to sustain you, support you, and carry you through the difficult times. It was not important to him what “things” he left behind, but rather, it was the love he shared. He showed his “boys” the importance of being a loving and caring spouse in how he doted on and loved our mother, Ginger. He adored her and immensely enjoyed “picking” on her. Even though she feigned annoyance, she loved every minute of it! Dad was a devoted and loving husband, father, grandfather, and brother. There was no greater joy than being his grandchildren's “Poppy” or his children's “Dad” or “Pop.” He was a wonderful role model for his three sons and his grandchildren.
Dad had a passionate love and respect for all music. Later in life, he focused on the Blues and became an aficionado of the blues. He had an enormous gift of oration and was an exceptional preacher. He deeply cared for his congregations (having served churches in Mississippi , Georgia and Louisiana ). He was able to empathetically connect to the people in his congregation by using the experiences, joys, sorrows and struggles in his own life. He was not just a pastor, but he was also a human being with human experiences and frailties. He took seriously his calling of being God's instrument and to tell the Truth – a Truth that was sometimes difficult and challenging. He was a glass half full kind of preacher, father, husband, brother, and friend. He was a voracious reader and a gifted writer (having written 3 books). He would pull from many sources for his sermons whether it was a book he was reading, a movie, a philosopher or a comic strip. Regardless of the source, he always conveyed the message in a simple, direct, and easily understood way. The message was always a simple one –God loves you!! You are not alone!!
Our father, Burton Blair, died on November 25, 2008 , after a valiant battle with cancer. He had lovingly and faithfully served in the United Methodist Church for 43 years. He died a day before my parents' 43 rd wedding anniversary. He is survived by his best friend and soul mate, Ginger Dreher Blair; three sons, Dietrich S. Blair, Eric S. Blair and Christopher Emil Blair and fiancé Carmin Horn; two grandchildren, Ava and Jack Blair; and a sister, Michelle Paudyal.
Rest well, Dad, in God's loving arms.
Dietrich Blair, Your Loving Son
|Source: Louisiana Conference Journal, 2009|