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Bill Blair…..The Man I knew!

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By Willis Johnson

I really don’t know where to start with William Blair Jr., because he was so many things to so many people, but the man I knew was always consistent and someone I could count on. I came to Dallas in 1976, country boy from East Texas and Tom Joyner was the only person I knew and he was my boss, but then I met Bill Blair and that’s when the fun began. Tom had ask me to go cover the Elite News Awards at People’s Baptist Church, where Rev. S.M.Wright was the pastor. Well clearly, I knew who Rev. Wright was, because of his legendary status and when I met him he seemed bigger than life and of course with that voice of his , his stature became even larger.

However there was a little man with suit on that seemed to be running Rev. Wright and everybody else in the church….Bill Blair. That night in 1976, Mr. Blair introduced himself and then started to take me around to different people in the room and told them I was with KKDA and at that time KKDA was pretty special. I was introduced to Dr. Manuel Scott (St. John in Dallas), Dr. C.A.W. Clark (Good Street ) and Rev. S.M.Wright(People’s), who I would later learn how they were the Big 3 in local politics , in addition to being major preachers. The other person that Mr. Blair introduced me to that night that stuck in my mind and my life until his death, was Mr. Hudson Griffin of Griffin Cleaners on Pine/Oakland. I would spend endless hours with Mr. Blair and Mr. Griffin, learning the history of Dallas on both sides of the Trinity. Also at the Elite News Awards that night was Judge L.A. Bedford(who recently passed as well) and I learned what a major role he played in the history of Dallas. Ms. Juanita Craft, Rev. C.B.T Smith, A.Maceo Smith, Maynard Jackson Sr. etc….I could go on and on about the people I met or learned about because of Bill Blair.

However, over time it became personal. Mr. Blair treated me in some ways like William III, Jordan, Debra and Darryl. I had become his son in the community, but with that came many days of harsh language for me from Mr. Blair, but it was followed up with “baby, you know I love you”…. and that I can truly say he did and I did my best to return that to him. His love for me was truly demonstrated on December 24, 2003, the day of my mother’s funeral. When I got to the Red Oak Baptist Church in Longview Texas on that dreadful day, the first person I saw was Bill Blair and I could not thank him enough for that day and now, all the other days that he showed me and this city support and love.

Mr. Blair had so much history and knowledge and he didn’t mind sharing it with those who would listen and those that he cared about. I remember when I started the Bishop 5 and how critical some people were of the young Bishop College grads, Denny Davis, Freddie Haynes, Jeffery Johnson, Karry Wesley and Anthony Sharp calling themselves The Bishop 5, but we were simply trying to help Paul Quinn College, but it wasn’t until Bill Blair ask one of the Big 3, C.A.W. Clark to attend and after that night, the revival took off and became one of Dallas’ most successful efforts with Paul Quinn raising over $2million  and those 5 young men are now senior pastors at that mega churches, but I know the role Bill Blair played and never wanted recognition.

Most will talk about the Negro baseball player, the right hand man to S.M. Wright, the newspaper publisher, the organizer of the MLK parade, the connector of politicians , but for me….He was my friend and closer to the father I never had as adult.

Before there was email….there was the Elite  and that was William Blair Jr. He will be missed.

  • cw

    Miss him too!

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