Lorain County: Former county commissioner Betty Blair remembered as deal maker, unifier – The Morning Journal

Longtime Lorain County Commissioner Betty Blair was remembered as someone who could set aside political party differences while working for the good of the community.
And, Blair also was a politician who loved being out and about.
Blair, a Democrat, served as a commissioner for 20 years before retiring in 2010.
Known for wearing wide-brimmed red hats, Blair died Feb. 25. She was 83.
Current Lorain County Commissioner Dave Moore, a Republican, served on the board with Blair from 2001-05.
“I got along with her pretty well,” Moore said.
He recalled that Blair reminded him of his own mother.
Both women were devout Catholics, Moore said, and Blair regularly attended mass before commissioner meetings.
“I called her mom; I’d tease her,” he said. “We used to razz each other pretty good.”
Even though the two were from opposing parties, it never stopped them from working together to do what was best for Lorain County, Moore recalled.
“Both Betty and Mary Jo (Vasi) did what was right for the county and not the political party,” he said. “That’s why I got along with both of them pretty well.”
Vasi, also a Democrat, served for many years as a commissioner.
Blair and Moore further bonded over their economic philosophy – which leaned heavily toward fiscally conservative.
“We had a lot in common,” he said.
Blair was instrumental in the creation of the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise or GLIDE, Moore said.
The program, a partnership between the commissioners, Lorain County Chamber of Commerce and Lorain County Community College, “helps Northeast Ohio entrepreneurs wrap sound business practices around great business ideas,” according to its website.
“It’s a great legacy for all three of us, because it’s still effective to this day,” Moore said of the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise.
Ted Kalo, current Lorain Clerk of Courts, also served as a county commissioner with Blair.
Kalo said Blair’s ability to communicate with a variety of people from different backgrounds made her a superpower as a politician.
“She had the ability to work with a diverse group of people with diverging opinions and bring them together,” he said. “She was really good at getting people to the table and working through issues.
“That’s what made her so effective as a regional leader.”
Blair could be warm and fuzzy, and also a bulldog, Kalo said.
“She was the most loving wonderful woman in the world, or she could be the toughest lady you ever dealt with in your life,” he said.
Out amongst the community, whether at an event, or on the campaign trail, is where she relished being, Kalo said.
“She loved to be out talking to people,” he said. “We spent a lot of time together. I worked on her campaigns prior to being a commissioner.
“She liked being out with the people, talking to them and listening to their issues, and discussing what was going on in county government. She was a true elected official.”
Blair, who lived in Carlisle Township, got her start in politics by serving as that community’s clerk for 23 years before winning the election to the county commissioners.
Voters elected her four more times.
A 1956 graduate of Elyria Catholic High School, Blair was named “outstanding senior girl” that year, according to her profile on Linkedin.
Friends recalled she loved to eat chocolate cake.
Playing the organ and piano also were her favorite pastimes.
Blair worked at General Motors, was a member of the Building Industries Association of Lorain County and was the first local woman to serve on the Ohio Township Association.
While serving as a commissioner, she would start every meeting with a thought of the day.
Before her final meeting in December 2010, she started the meeting off like this: “To love what you do and feel like it matters, how can anything be more fun.”
Blair is survived by six children and several grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will take place at 10 a.m., March 4, at St. Mary Church, 320 Middle Ave. in Elyria.
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