My Dad, William Blair, was a river guide, through and through. Even “off duty” he always had an eye out for protecting and entertaining the people he was around on the river. On duty, he was extremely passionate about his job, and did it well. As a northwest salmon, steelhead and trout guide in the 70′, 80’s and 90’s, on the Olympic Peninsula, his clients repeatedly came back for more big fish! He was a master boatman (and I am not just saying that). His precision and fluidity on the oars was like watching an osprey or ballerina work their magic.
As an instructor on the water, his insight and ability to communicate with his students to transfer his knowledge and skill was top notch. His calm demeanor and smile consistently allowed a student to stay focused and learn, even while right in the middle of a class 3 rock garden, while stuck on one of those rocks! He called these events, “time-outs”, to learn from a mistake. I have no doubt that the skill transferred to his students over 45 years of training people to row or paddle on northwest rivers has saved many lives. Additionally I hope those students have perpetuated that skill on to their friends and family.
I was one of his students when I was old enough to pick up an oar. My Dad taught me how to row a boat down a rocky river. His insistence on discipline, planning and precise oarsmanship was an integral part of me developing my own river skills. He truly set a solid foundation in me to build on, as he did with hundreds of other students over the years.
His presence, culture and attitude on the river will be missed, yet always regarded, remembered and utilized.