RIP, George D. Blair

By Pete Ehrmann on February 2, 2019
RIP, George D. Blair
“I am not a computer person,” he wrote. “I know nothing about them and don’t want to.”

I never met George D. Blair in person, but we were avid pen pals until he abruptly stopped writing to me about five years ago…

I never met George D. Blair in person, but we were avid pen pals until he abruptly stopped writing to me about five years ago. He had asked for a copy of a photo I had of Al Andrews, the 1950s middleweight contender from northwest Wisconsin. I sent it to him, and in return George mailed me a $5 bill with a warning that if I sent it back he would never speak to me again. Not taking him seriously and trying to be cute, in my next letter I said not only would I not accept his $5 for the photo, but that for threatening me I was fining him one dollar—and enclosed $6.

Thus ended my long, enjoyable and always fruitful correspondence with Minnesota’s premier boxing historian, former contributor to The Ring and numerous other boxing publications, author of 20 or so booklets about Mike and Tommy Gibbons and other momentous figures in Gopher State ringdom, 2016 inductee into the Minnesota Boxing Hall of Fame—and staunch man of his word.

The envelopes containing George’s letters were always bulky because he included pages of photocopied clippings and articles he assiduously collected for decades from newspapers and magazines. Sometimes there’d be just the clippings and a single sentence in George’s ornate cursive: “I will be sending a lot more of this crap along with a letter very soon.”

His letters were always handwritten. “I am not a computer person,” George wrote. “I know nothing about them and don’t want to.” He was also his own worst critic: “I recently came across several envelopes with stories that I wrote a long time ago but did nothing with. A few of them were pretty good, but I threw out the whole thing.”

When I told him once he was as influential in and important to Minnesota boxing as George Barton, the old Minneapolis sportswriter, George responded, “You had to be drunk to say that.”

Strangely enough, while George’s embargo on correspondence after my picture money insubordination was strictly adhered to (he never responded to another letter from me), every year I continued to get a Christmas card from him. No message—just that florid signature. Therefore, the one I got last December didn’t mention that George was dying.

According to word just received from his daughter Joan, George passed away on January 26. He was 85, and had suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease for years.

“There will be no obituary and the family will not be having a memorial for him since it was something he didn’t want,” said his daughter.

He’d hate this even more, but to let the research, scholarship, writing and other contributions to boxing of George D. Blair go unremarked would be taking the silent treatment way too far.

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  1. Tom 08:19am, 02/05/2019

    Pete Ehrmann - Always the best of the best.

  2. Bob 08:44pm, 02/02/2019

    Nice tribute. Thanks for not taking the silent treatment so far. It would have been nice if Mr. Blair realized what a positive influence he was to others.

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