“Leadership is not being the person in the front, but being the front person.” What this means in terms of power, you can be the leader but you may not necessarily be the most influential. Todays young leaders have got to know when he or she is in the midst of true influence, that’s who Willie Blair was to San Diego politics, for a long period of time.” ~ Cheryl Morrow/Publisher

Remembering Willie Blair

By Bob Filner

No one knew our community better than Willie Blair. No one had closer relationships with more people in our community than Willie Blair. No one worked harder for his community than Willie Blair. No one loved his community more than Willie Blair.

And this community loved Willie Blair. I didn’t love anyone more than I loved Willie Blair. He worked for me (l should say, more correctly, that he worked for his community through me) for more than twenty-five years*longer than anyone else. He made me a far better City Councilman, Congressman, and Mayor. I “knew” the communities I represented because of Willie Blair. You wanted to know about the educational needs of the community? You asked Willie Blair. Health concerns? Ask Willie Blair. Economic development? Ask Willie Blair. The housing situation? Small business priorities? Any community need? Ask Willie Blair. How do we help high school students better understand politics? Which potential community leaders should we help groom? Who’s in the hospital that needs comforting? Who’s getting married? Who’s getting a college degree?

Which Church has a special program or recognition this Sunday? Why is a certain Pastor upset with me? Who do we nominate for our nation’s Military Academies? Which candidate or community group needs some special help? Where are the potholes? What group needs a new building? Where does the next park go?

Willie Blair knew it all!

“There was nothing, he did not know, or could not know.”

And who gave the most moving and rousing speeches in the City of San Diego? lf there was a progressive need in the community-or a progressive group that needed hope, understanding, and inspiration-the booming voice of Willie Blair could be heard. We didn’t know too much about his personal life. He never talked about his military service to our nation. Everything was about his community-and how much harder we all had to work to improve it, it was never about Willie Blair personally-although he did love the honorary degree which made him a Doctor!

It’s certainly a cliche to say that someone like Willie Blair will be sorely missed. But it’s going to be tough to know that he is not in Church with us; that he is no longer in a high school mentoring students; that he won’t be chairing and rousing up a BAPAC meeting; that we won’t be keynoting a community meeting demanding services and respect that he won’t be giving the best introduction a public official ever received to urge our support; that he won’t be gracing our community with his charisma-and smile. San Diego is lucky. There are few people in this world like Willie Blair.