It is with great sadness that we announce the sudden passing of Howard Frederick “Fred” Blair of Fredericton, NB, on August 24, 2022. Fred was born on December 28, 1939, in Halifax, NS. Before he was born, his father had left Halifax to join the forces fighting in Europe during World War II. During that time, Fred, along with his brother Roy, were raised by their mother, a teacher, until his father returned in 1945, wherein they met for the first time. After briefly remaining in Halifax, the family moved to Fredericton where Fred enjoyed all the usual antics of youth growing up in Sunshine Gardens. Eventually his Uncle, also named Fred Blair (the pair being given the titles “Big Fred” and “Little Fred”), introduced him to Lake George which would become his sanctuary and where he would spend the bulk of his time until his passing.
After graduating from FHS in 1957, Fred felt the call of News Reporting, successfully applying for a position as a reporter at radio station CFNB in Fredericton. It was at this time, in 1964, that Fred met and married Marilyn Mahan and started a family. They were married for 46 happy years until Marilyn’s passing in 2010. He eventually moved to the local newsroom of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio and later television, where he became head of the Newsroom and the face of reporting on politics and politicians in New Brunswick. Fred was highly respected in this role and earned a reputation as being one of the most honest, forthright, and fair reporters this province has ever produced both to the subjects of his reporting and, most importantly, to the audience who depended on him for information on the work and activities of the New Brunswick government and legislature. Fred was later made a Charter Member of the Press Club in recognition of his many accomplishments.
After many years of reporting, Fred decided to get closer to the political world when he joined the Progressive Conservative Party of New Brunswick as its Executive Director, where his reputation for honesty and integrity continued to serve him well for many years. But nothing in life, especially politics, lasts forever, and Fred moved on and tried his hand at private consulting, taking on many interesting projects, most notably working on a story of two Indigenous men paddling a canoe along the route known as the Maliseet Trail. Throughout his life Fred was always interested in the history of various places in the Province, in particular the East Grand Lake and St. Croix River system, where he spent time canoeing, boating, and camping.
The political world was not completely done with Fred, as Conservative Member of Parliament Greg Thompson asked Fred to join his team and run his constituency office in St. Stephen. Fred knew that Greg was the kind of politician he could work with and happily joined his team. Fred spent many happy years working with Greg, and he finished his working life there.
Fred was very active in the community throughout his life, giving much of his time volunteering in the early days of the Fredericton Youth Hockey Association (FYHA) and the Fredericton Youth Hockey Officials Association (FYHOA) where he served as President of both. He was also Past President of the Fredericton Golden Club, and Past-President of the Fredericton Snooker League. His love of Lake George and desire to see it remain healthy for future generations led to his involvement in the creation of Lake George Habitat Preservation Incorporated (LGHPI).
In 2012, Fred married Wanda MacLean (Clarke) and started a new life as a retired person. Fred and Wanda enjoyed traveling, watching the Blue Jays, and spending time with friends and family in Fredericton, at Lake George, and on the Miramichi River. One thing Fred looked most forward to was his bi-monthly breakfast meetings with friends and political pundits at the Sunshine Diner – he so much enjoyed discussing past and current politics with this group, and they were so helpful to Fred and Wanda over his last months.
Fred was predeceased by his parents Roland (Roly) and Verne Blair; brother, Roy, and sister-in-law, Allison. He is survived by and will be deeply missed by his wife, Wanda; sons Chris (Jennifer Yamazaki) and Duncan (Brenda Warner); sisters-in-law Francis Jacobson, Diane Fraser (Doug); brother-in-law Gordon Clarke (Jean); step-children Misty Thomas (Frank Comeau), Dana Jo Brownell (Paul), and many grandchildren, step-grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, many cousins, nieces, and nephews, and of course, his cat, “Little Girl”.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Canadian Cancer Society New Brunswick, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, or the Fredericton SPCA.
Arrangements have been entrusted to McAdam’s Funeral Home. A celebration of life will be held in the Greenbrier room at Kingswood Lodge, just off Hanwell Road in Fredericton, on Sunday, September 11, from 11:00 to 2:00. All are welcome. The family has requested that attendees wear masks while at the event.