Monday, February 15, 2016

Well known local rancher Howard Blair dies

Howard Blair
 Needles Star

NEEDLES — Well-known local rancher Howard Blair passed away Feb. 6, 2016, in Newberry Springs, Calif.

If it was a Sunday around Needles, residents and friends probably saw the tip of a white cowboy hat, a big smile and a “Hi Hi” from the well-known local rancher. He always had a smile and pleasant word for everybody he met.

Blair was born in Long Beach, Calif., in 1926. His family homesteaded in Lanfair Valley in 1913. Blair spent most of his youth on the family ranch and loved the ranching way of life. That love led to eventually having his own ranch in Fish Lake Valley, Nev.

Blair finished eighth grade in Long Beach then worked odd jobs to help support his family growing up. Near the end of WWII, at age 17, he enlisted in the Navy for V6, (Victory and six months) and served as a second class machinist mate for three years.

He met and married Hazel Pearl Smith, raised her two young sons and the couple had three more children together. That’s when he worked and saved to buy the ranch in Nevada. Smith’s poor health led to having to sell that ranch and instead, Blair bought his uncle’s ranch north of Essex with his brother.

Ranching was always a big part of his life, but religion always played a part too. He became a founding member of the Needles Church of Christ. Rarely did he miss a Sunday in Needles to attend church.

Blair’s children attended Needles High School. He never missed a football game while his children were in school.

Aside from supporting his children, he loved to square dance and belonged to the Essex Square 8s Dance Club.

His wife, Hazel, passed away in 1969. Blair eventually remarried to Shirley Buegeler, of Needles.

Blair’s love of ranching also kept him involved in other ways. He was vice-president of the High Desert Cattlemen’s Association for many years. In 1990, he partnered with his son, Rob Blair, in the family ranch business.

Howard spent the rest of his years living the life he loved, working the ranch, raising cattle and spending time with his church family and loved ones.

A memorial service is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 27 at the Needles Elks Lodge.