Barbara Blaney Bair, 90, of Old Lyme, formerly of Rowayton, beloved wife of the late Robert Dwight Bair, passed Sunday, May 16, 2021. Raised in Warehouse Point, Barbara grew up working in the tobacco fields; and thereafter attended and graduated from St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center with a nursing degree in medical surgery, and simultaneously obtained her license as a registered nurse. She later became the first female registered nurse EMT in the Rowayton Fire Department. After studying at St. Francis, Barbara met the love of her life, Bob Bair. They married, and ultimately settled in Rowayton and raised four sons, whom Barbara was devoted to.
Barbara’s free spirit led her to the water. She loved to swim in the Long Island Sound, beginning her swim season in April and making it out to the water every day, until her birthday on the 1st of November. She and her husband were avid sailors, often sailing to Block Island with their family. Barbara served as commander of the Power Squadron, a teaching organization aimed to improve maritime safety. The combination of love she had for the water and for Rowayton, led her to become a board member of the Rowayton Beach Association, where she and her husband would stop the demolition of the Beach Association’s landmark Boathouse.
Barbara went on to write, publish and copyright Rowayton Beach Association Historical Highlights and Sidelights. She became more involved in the town, co-founding several annual events in Rowayton, to include the Rowayton River Ramble, the Rowayton Summer Arts Festival in Pinkney Park and the Rowayton Memorial Day Parade.
Her fierce belief in the greater good led her to be an advocate for those in need. During racial turmoil in the 1960s and 1970s, she set an example of kindness and compassion by hosting and funding the stay of several racially diverse children in Rowayton. She also became an advocate for the environment, creating Save the Wetlands with several other like-minded residents. Together, they would organize an annual large clean-up of Rowayton School Pond and Farm Creek. In addition to her love for the natural world, Barbara was an artist and a lover of poetry, particularly the poems of Rob McKuen. With the nickname of “Boston Beatnik,” you could imagine these four words to truly encompass Barbara’s personality: fierce, original, unorthodox and badass.
Barbara is survived by her four beloved children: Mike (Britt), Steve (Lisa), Tom (Dorene) and John (Corinne); and six cherished grandchildren: Alex, Jack, Annie, Ryan, Lily and Charlie. In addition to her adored husband Bob, Barbara was predeceased by her sister Georgine Blaney.
Services will be held privately for Barbara in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Barbara’s name to the Fresh Air Fund (https://freshair.org/donate/) or the Rowayton Historical Society (https://www.rowaytonhistoricalsociety.org/). For information or to leave an online condolence, please visit www.SpearFuneralHome.com.
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