BLAIR, ANITA LEE (1916 ~ 2010). The following is a news item written upon the death of former Texas legislator Anita Blair. The item was published at the KVIA 7 El Paso website on August 25, 2010.
Former State Rep., Political Watchdog Anita Blair Has Died
By ABC-7 Reporter Marissa Monroy
EL PASO, Texas -- Former State Rep. Anita Blair died of a heart attack recently, friends told ABC-7.
She was 93 years old.
Blair represented El Paso in the Texas Legislature as a State Representative for one term, from 1953-'55.
For years, she would attend City Council and County Commissioners meetings to voice her opinions on various issues and ask for politicians to be held accountable for their actions.
"It was a shock to me, you get a phone call that Anita Blair dies and it goes right through your system," radio host and friend, Paul Strelzin said. "She was an amazing woman."
Blair was born in El Paso in 1916. She lost her eyesight shortly after her graduation from Austin High School. Friends said she crashed into a stalled truck on her way back from a graduation party in Alamogordo, N.M.
"She tells me, 'Glass got in my eyes,'" Jane Ratcliff said. "She was sitting in the front when the windshield broke and that's why she lost her sight."
Blair earned a Bachelors of Arts degree at the Texas College of Mines & Metallurgy (now UTEP). In 1940, she became the first El Pasoan to received a guide dog, Fawn. The German shepherd helped Blair escape a Chicago hotel fire where more than 50 people died.
Blair was also the first blind woman elected to any state legislature, where she actively fought for safety legislation and rights for the disabled. President Harry Truman appointed Blair - the only woman - to the Presidential Safety Committee.
"I don't think she thought of her blindness as a handicap, because she kept going," said former County Commissioner Charles Hooten. "Sometimes people dreaded her moving toward the microphone because we all knew we were going to get it."
But even as a staunch Democrat, she counted many Republicans as her friends.
"El Paso lost someone special," Hooten said. "It's a big loss. She was a great lady for our community, an El Paso product."