Betty Blair, a longtime activist with the former Longboat Key Public Interest Committee, died April 29. She was 91.
When budget workshops droned on in the dead heat of summer, the public audience at Longboat Key Town Hall often whittled down to one.
The lone watchdog was Betty Blair, a longtime activist with the former Longboat Key Public Interest Committee (PIC), which dissolved last year. Blair seldom missed a Longboat Key Town Commission or Planning and Zoning Board workshop — sometimes to the chagrin of commissioners and board members.
Blair’s devotion stemmed from her determination to keep Longboat Key from being overbuilt during the 1980s and 1990s, a period of rapid development.
After moving to Longboat Key, she worked for a short stint at the Longboat Observer but went on to become a founder of PIC’s newsletter, the VOICE, as a counterweight to the newspaper’s influence.
“She feared the developers were going to come in and turn Longboat into Fort Myers Beach or Bradenton Beach,” said former Longboat Key Mayor Joan Webster, who served as PIC’s president. “She put up a big fight to keep what we have on this beautiful island.”
Blair, of Plymouth Harbor and formerly of Longboat Key, died April 29. She was 91.
Born Feb. 29, 1924 — Leap Year — she was raised in Pittsburgh and also lived in Middletown, Ohio.
She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and was a fashion model and consultant, ad agency writer, TV news reporter, newspaper editor and public relations manager.
Blair became involved with PIC around the time of its formation in 1985 and 1986. In addition to opposing overdevelopment of the Key, she worked to require the town to obtain voter approval via referenda to obtain bonds.
“Some people don’t want to get involved in local organizations because they feel like they’ve done all that where they lived before,” Blair told the Longboat Observer in 2006. “But it’s important to still be active in the community to keep it the way you want it.”
Blair was preceded in death by her husband, C. Edward Blair. She is survived by sons Gustav Wilde, Ronald Wilde and Douglas Wilde; daughters Kristen Obaranex and Karen Minvielle; four stepchildren; 18 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
A reception will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. May 15, at Plymouth Harbor, 700 John Ringling Blvd., Sarasota.