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Paul Barr Blair

Paul Barr Blair

Paul Barr Blair, 57, of Little Rock, passed away on Wednesday, November 8, 2006, of complications from prostate cancer. He was born on May 19, 1949 in Dover, Ohio, son of the late Bill and Martha Blair. He graduated from West Liberty State College in West Liberty, West Virginia, in 1975.

Coach Blair’s passion for swimming has built a foundation for the sport in Arkansas, where he started coaching the Arkansas Dolphins Swim Team in 1979. He was an eight-time USA National Team coach and coached the Arkansas Dolphins to the 1988 US Open Men’s Team Championship, the 1989 US Men’s Team National Championship, to 10 Region VIII Championship titles and 57 Arkansas State Age Group Championship titles. He individually coached 6 US National Champions, 1 US Open National Champion, 12 Junior National Champions, 2 Olympic Festival Gold Medalists, 35 National Age Group Champions, 17 National Age Group Record Holders, 9 Masters National Champions, 1 Pan American Silver Medalist, 25 World Ranked Swimmers, 25 Olympic Trials Qualifiers, 4 Pan Pacific Team Members, 6 Olympic Swimmers, 1 World Team Silver Medalist, and 1 Olympic Gold Medalist. For the past two years, he also served as the women’s Associate Head Swimming Coach at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Coach Blair was inducted into the West Liberty State College Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Arkansas Swimming Hall of Fame in 1992. In 2004, he received the International Swimming Hall of Fame Yutaka Terao Award. Coach Blair also served on various state and national boards, including Vice-President of the American Swim Coaches Association, the International Swimming Hall of Fame Board of Governors, and the State of Arkansas Governor’s Council for Sport and Fitness.

Coach Blair is survived by his wife, Mary Dawn; his daughters, Shawna, of Washington, DC, and Marissa and Lindann, both of Little Rock; a sister, Barb Karr-Blair and her husband Gary Karr, of Columbus, Ohio; his brothers, Dave and his wife Bobbi, of Beaver, Pennsylvania; and Jim and Brad Blair, both of Dover, Ohio; his mother-in-law and father-in-law, Melvin and Sally Peluchette, of Wheeling, West Virginia; 7 brothers-in-law; 8 sisters-in-law; 27 nieces and nephews; and hundreds of beloved swimmers and friends.

Visitation will be Thursday, November 9 and Friday, November 10 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Ruebel Funeral Home. Funeral service will be at 10 a.m., Saturday, November 11, at Our Lady of the Holy Souls Catholic Church with Father Lawrence Frederick officiating. Graveside service to follow at Pinecrest Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Arkansas Dolphins Swim Team or the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Funeral arrangements are by Ruebel Funeral Home of Little Rock,

Condolence Book

"Coach Blair was a friend and mentor for over 25 years. I will always remember the good times we shared especially from 1985-1991 when we worked together.

I am glad he is now at peace.

Believe the Dolphin Difference!"

Bob Staab | Bartlesville, OK |

"Paul is man that has left legacy to all of us to benefit from and we are so appreciative that you and the girls shared his love his passion with all of us.

He is a man among men who made the world better for the time he shared with us all in this part of life.

Paul is now coaching us and inspiring and motivationg from above and we are all so thankful for being touched by him in frindship and as a partner in this coaching profession.

Peter D Malone and KC Blazers families send our prayers and appreciation to you all. "

Peter Malone | Olathe, KS |

"Paul has always been a great friend to me as a fellow coach on all occasions. How many ways can the word Positive be said. God Bless you Paul and God Bless the Blair family. Smile on us from Heaven Paul,

Randy Julian"

Randy Julian | Colorado Springs, CO |

"To Mary Dawn and family;
Your loss is shared by everyone who has been privileged to know Paul. The standard he set on the deck is paled by the one he set in life.
I thank you for all the years you shared him with the rest of us.
Paul's friend in coaching and life;

Ira Klein | Colorado Springs, CO |

"My families thoughts and prayers for everyone."
John McIlhargy, USA Swimming | Colorado Springs, CO |

"I first met Paul during the run up to the '92 Olympics where Steve Crocker gave it his best shot. During this time and off and on through the years I enjoyed our discussions regarding the potential of 'professional' swimming in the world. Though it has not quite evolved the way he envisioned it, he was truely a visionary.
Paul will truely be missed by all of us who were blessed to have known him. My prayers are with his family and his beloved greater swim family.
Chuck Kroll
Seattle "

Chuck Kroll | Seattle, WA |

"I just lost my grandpa last Tuesday. I know words are hard to say and hard to comfort, but Paul was a great guy and awesome coach. I knew him through swimming and Coach Bob Staab, while continuing to be his assistant for the Splash Club currently. The world of swimming and most important life in general lost a great soul!

My deepest and sincerest sympathies to his family.

Ben Harlow - ConocoPhillips Splash Club Head Age Group Coach and Bruin High School Head Coach. "

Ben Harlow | Bartlesville, OK |

"Paul Blair was not only a friend, but a valuable mentor and colleague. I am certain that my career and life would be different had I not had the opportunity to know him. He touched many lives during the course of his career and I am certain that the world is a better place as a result. His actions, not words, have spoken volumes. He demonstrated a passion for developing great young people, not just swimmers. Our future is brighter having been touched by his spirit. "
John McGough | Grapevine, TX |

"Paul will be missed by all of us in USA Swimming whether coach, official or other volunteer, whether at a swim meet or a meeting. I treasure my memories of Paul's warm smile and lively sense of humor and value the expertise he brought and shared with us.

Mary Jo Swalley | Santa Barbara, CA |

"What made Paul Blair a great Caoch and even a better person was his values. He was always positive- never any complaints even during the most difficult times of his illness. He put the needs of others before himself-"service beyond self". He understood the difference between right and wrong and always did the right thing. He built up everyone around him. He was a loving family man who understand how important it was to love his family. I will miss him and my broken heart goes out to Paul's family and friends. By the way, he was one of the great inovative Coaches of all times in America and perhaps the world.His results speak for themselves. I was blessed to have him as a neighbor when growing up in Dover, Ohio and a mentor as a Coach.
Coach Wally Morton, Cleveland State University "

Wally Morton | Cleveland, OH |

"Mary Dawn and family:

Please accept my condolences on the passing of Coach Paul. I knew Paul since I began my association with USA Swimming over 25 years ago. He and I talked many times and his counsel was always appreciated and valued.

Thank you for sharing your husband and father with all of us.

Ron Van Pool
Immediate Past President
USA Swimming"

Ron Van Pool | Seattle, WA |

"During my ten years with Arkansas Swimming, I felt blessed to have known Paul and to be able to call him a colleague. He was an inspiration to all of us in Arkansas and USA Swimming. "
Anne Goodman James | Colorado Springs, CO |

"My condolence to the entire Blair family. I enjoyed working with Paul during my carreer at both The Finals and at Speedo. He was not only a great coach but great friend to the sport of Swimming. He will be missed by everyone!"
Scott A. Morris | Rochester Hills, MI |

"To the Blair Family,
I would like to extend my most heartfelt condolences to you during this time of grief. Many fond memories were created throughout my years of swimming in Arkansas; in so many ways Coach Blair was both directly and indirectly responsible for those. He leaves behind a legacy that will outlast us all.

Hillary Hunt"

Hillary Hunt | Little Rock, AR |

"To Paul's Family,

Our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy in your time of loss.
Coach was and remains an inspiration of strength and courage through all he endured.

Evan and Traci


Evan and Traci Johnston | Conway, AR |

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Blair family. He ment alot to this family even though we were Searcy Sharks. We are honored to have known him."
Rick, Marsha, Caitlin, and Kristen Boren | Carbondale, IL |


When I think of all the folks who have held that title that I have the had the pleasure to have known, there has only been but one, who's image in my mind the word truly represented. If you look in my cell phone under 'contacts' and who is listed between Chesonis and Colvin, there is 'Coach'...For well over 30 years...
As he told me, when we joked in August during my visit, "that's a long time to hold that title, Jeff, you sure you didn't just forget 'Blair'?..." Nope, I didn't Coach. There's only one of you...There will only ever be one Coach...

If you speak with anyone who has ever been blessed enough to have swam for 'Coach', you invariably will witness a broad smile as they tell their favorite 'Coach' story. He had that effect on everyone he met. Few people weild the character that Paul Barr Blair brought to the conversation. Few people could bring the positive attitude to the table that 'Coach' possessed. His was a way of invoking great results by merely having the conversation. His predictions of impending success, were like something out of a novel. Just ask someone who was one of 'Blair's Boys'...Or, for that matter, one of 'Blair's Girls'...He simply brought out the best in his swimmers, not just as athletes, but as people.
We all will miss you 'Coach..'

Occasionally, I will walk on deck or in our athletic department office and as we exchange greetings, folks will say 'How's it going Coach?'...My thoughts for the past few years have reminded me of 'Coach', not the title that now accompanies my name and avocation. My thoughts go to how tough a battle 'Coach' has been waging. Through it all he showed strength in his voice, his beliefs, and his actions. All, despite the heavyweight foe with whom he was exchanging punches. I will always consider 'Coach' the victor...We have all learned from his strength and dignity during these last few years. Thanks, 'Coach'...

In life, outside of our Families, are we ever profoundly effected by strong, well-guided love and knowledge. We have come to know him simply as, 'Coach.' It may be Paul Blair's image that comes to my mind when I think of him, but I will always think of him as, 'Coach'...
Thanks, 'Coach'...

Mary Dawn and Family, 'Thank You' for sharing 'Coach' with us...You are in our hearts, our thoughts, and our prayers. May His strength and Love be with you...

Jeff Stewart & Family
Ohio Valley Y Octopii
1974-1979 "

Jeff & The Stewart Family | St. Clairsville, OH |

"What a great race !!!! We love you."
Greg,Leta and Laura Peterson | Little Rock , AR |

"MaryDawn and girls,

I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I was looking through some pictures tonight of Coach Blair's first season in Little Rock. The summer of 1979 brought us Paul, MaryDawn, your house in the circle off Reservoir road, Sam Freas, Kent Kirchner, the swimmers from West Virginia, Mark Peluchette, etc. All are good memories. He left a legacy... and will be missed.

My sympathies,
Anita Heil Parisi"

Anita Heil Parisi | Fayetteville, AR |

"Mary Dawn, Shawna, Marissa, and Lindann,

Paul was such an inspiration to so many. He made you want to achieve so much more than you thought you had it in you. He has touched so many lives and has made such a difference in young and not-so-young alike. All of you have been very special to us and will always hold a special place in our hearts.
I really mean it when I say I am always there and you can call on me for anything. I am just a phone call away.
Paul will always be with us in our thoughts and memories. Our years of knowing all of you has made our lives that much richer.

With love,

Donna and Norman Sward"

Donna and Norman Sward | Hot Springs Village, AR |

"It is hard to put into words the thoughts and emotions one has when learning of the passing of Paul.

Paul's positive impact with people was widespread both personally and professionally. I will always remember one thing about Paul... No single person has had more positive impact in forwarding the cause of Arkansas Swimming on the national level than Paul Blair. Literally, thousands of young people and their families have personally benefitted by his efforts over the years.

I remember Paul as fun loving father and a loving husband. Paul was always delighted to share in the successess of the ladies that made up the rest of the Blair household.

My wife Shay and I will have the Blair family, and all of their friends, in our thoughts during this difficult time.

Sam Kendricks Los Alamos, NM"

Sam Kendricks | Los Alamos, NM |

"The swimming community has lost one of its finest. Paul will be remembered as an excellent coach, and first-class friend, and a wonderful human being. Condolences to the Blair family and to Arkansas Swimming."
Betty Kooy | Hastings NE |

"Our deepest condolences to Coach Blair's family and friends. You are in our prayers. Love, The Grants"
David, Terry and Lauren Grant | Mansfield , CT |

"Please accept our deepest sympathy and prayers- Paul was a dynamo and touched so many lives in so many ways we may never know the full extent of his impact on the young people he came to know-


Rhonda & Renee Blair

Rhonda & Renee Blair | Dover, OH |

"Paul was there when I first started coaching in Jefferson City Mo in 1979. He introduced himself and from there we were great friends. He tought me a lot and I will miss him and his laugh. My thoughts and prayers are with you and the family. "
Clayton Cagle | Houston, TX |

"Sorry, really sorry for your loss. Want to remind you that Paul will always be remembered, and that he was a great person in addition to being a great coach. When I was a fairly young coach, Paul was great to talk with at meets. He always made time to listen and share ideas, helpful and supportive ideas. When I brought swimmers to meets in Little Rock, Paul was a gracious host who ran really good swim meets. Over the years I reached out for ideas and Paul always responded with helpful insights. Wow, really - sorry for your loss. Hang in there.

(Coach) Allan Kopel"

Allan Kopel | |

"It was a joy to work with Paul over the many years. He always had a bright light shinning."
John T Bumpers | Conway, AR |

"Our condolences to your family. Your long journey has been an inspiration to a lot of people. We will keep you in our prayers. "
Bob, Jodi, Rachel & Haley Reeves | Little Rock, AR |

"Paul was a good friend & a great coach, his love for his family & swimming will be greatly missed but never forgotten."
Jack Jackson | Omaha, NE |

"For the family of Coach Blair: The life of Coach Blair had a profound impact on my two grandsons, Chase and Cash Lambert. The "coach" was their example of a life well-lived and his example will follow them for the rest of their lives. Thanks to "coach" for helping to mold lives of young people. How refreshing it is to actually see the difference one person can make in a world that is so confusing to so many! Thanks, coach!"
Vera Downs | Arkadelphia, AR |

"When you stop to think about the job Paul did in Arkansas, the mind boggles. While some "great" coaches in this country get to work in areas where every swim meet offers top competitive opportunities to swimmers, Paul created an enviroment where swimmers could reach the heights of the swimming world without the aid of a great competitive enviroment. That fact will stand as a testament to his abilities as a coach, as a man, and as a mentor. "
MIchel Lewellyn | Lees Summit, MO |

"Paul was a very good friend who I enjoyed seeing every year at the National meets and ASCA clinic. I served together on the ASCA Board with Paul, often sitting next to him to hear his unigue perspective on swimming as well as sharing some good humor. I could always cont on a great smile and a warm handshake whenever we met. I will miss him yet treasure the memories forever.

The family is in my prayers.

Jimmy "

Jimmy Tierney | Evanston, IL |

"I love you and miss you coach!!!!"
Megan Young | Little Rock , AR |

"You will never know just how much you meant to Megan. She was by your side till the very end.


Hollye Young | Little Rock, AR |

"Coach Blair is the face of Arkansas Swimming, he will be missed by all of us in the coaching profession. Our team always enjoyed the trip to the Thanksgiving Meet because Coach Blair made sure everyone felt welcome to the pool and the competition. The Rockwood Swim Club sends their thoughts to his wife and daughters and all the swimmers who have lost their Coach."
mary liston | st louis, MO |

"We are very sad to hear about Paul's passing. He will be missed by the swimming world. He was a tremendous coach and person we all admired and respected. I am very proud to have had him as a friend and colleague.

Krissy and I wish your entire family the best during this time and in your future. We know that Paul loves his family and his swimming family very much as he looks down from that "big swim center in the sky".

Chris and Krissy MacCurdy"

Chris MacCurdy | Carrollton, TX |

"Because he was a man of integrity and a friend to all coaches at every level Paul was always one of my favorite coaches."
Pete Kennedy | Iowa City, IA |

"Our sincere condolences and prayers go out to Paul's entire family and relatives.

I got to know Paul when I began my apprentice officiating program two years ago, apprenticing at the Little Rock meet. Even though the meet was filled with many officials, coaches, parents and swimmers, Paul made a point to seek me out, talk to me and let me know how appreciative he was that I was there to help out. Though truth be told, Paul helped me a whole lot more than I what I could contribute. From that day forward, I have tried my best to help out those families and/or apprentices that are new to our sport and/or new to officiating. Because of the way Paul took it all in stride, I am sure that he has touched and affected many more people than even he realized.

I will truly miss seeing Paul at the meets, but his example will continue everyday.

Brian Schaenzer, Northwest Aquatics (NWAA)
(Wife Joan, and our swim kids - Katie and Karl.)"

Brian Schaenzer | Bentonville, AR |

Kim Pike | Bentonville, AR |

"To the Blair family, I am very sorry for your loss. Coach was an incredible inspiration for me when I started out in my carreer as a swimming coach in 1992. He will be truly missed by all who had the chance to be around him. What a pleaasure it has been to be able to speak with Paul and learn from one of the truly GREAT Coaches and Mentors'.

Mike Davidson "

Mike Davidson | Solon , OH |

"Paul was truly an inspiration to the swimming world. He had great integrity and spirit on deck that always made me smile. I have always had a great deal of respect for him. The Dolphins will never be the same without him.

I hope that he has found peace now after a long stuggle with his illness. I am truly saddened for your loss. I will never forget him!"

Kim Pike, Razorback Aquatic Club | Bentonville, AR |

"Paul Blair was my dauther's swim coach for 8 years. He has made a lasting impact on her. He was a wonderful coach/man. We will miss him forever! Our deepest thoughts, prayers, and love goes out to his family."
The Greenwood Family | Little Rock, AR |

"My thoughts are with your family-we will all miss a great coach."
Diane McClain | Horsham , PA |

"We would like to express our sympathy at this very difficult time. Mr. Blair always kept such a positive attitude throughout all of his radiation treatments and we always looked forward to seeing him. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all."
CARTI Radiation Therapists-Stephanie, Steve, Dean, Jeanette | LITTLE ROCK, AR | SVI21A4@CARTI.COM

"I'm so sorry that Paul passed away. I have tried to keep up with his progress this past year. He has touched many lives throughout his coaching career. I know he will be missed. He has helped me over the years providing answers to many questions about swimming. We in the coaching profession are going to miss him. He is in a better place and I will remember how happy he was being a swimming coach. "
David Smith | Memphis, TN |

"What and inspiration Paul was to younger Coaches. He always had time to visit with others and always asked how their swimmers were doing at the meet. Thanks for being a leader and Role Model to us ALL !!

Eddie Adams
Cy Fair Swim Club
Houston, Texas
Gulf Swimming"

Eddie Adams | Cypres, TX |

"Dave,Brad,Jim and Family ..... So sorry to hear of your loss.. All will be in our thoughts and prayers."
Eric & Rhea Hay | DOVER, OH |

"We will keep the family and swimmers in our prayers."
Joanne | Memphis, TN |

"Paul will forever in my memories be a person who always had time to share a smile and some kindness to a young, aspiring swim coach.
Please know that he has affected so many in such a positive way. Paul was a difference maker and an individual who made his corner of the world a better place.
God bless you all.
Donald Gibb "

Donald Gibb | Columbia, SC |

"Please accept my deepest sympathies. Hearing that Paul had passed has hung a very dark cloud on my mood. I really only got to see Paul at meets and clinics - and he was truly inspirational with his upbeat outlook when he continued to live life and show up on deck with a smile long after he knew he was terminal. I'll miss him - but he touched many lives in a positive way - and I'm certain that he would prefer to remembered in that fashion."
David Stevens | St. Louis, MO |

"We have many fond memories of Paul and are saddened by the news of his passing. We all have benefited from knowing him. He was always a class act!

Our condolences to Paul's family."

Todd and Vicki Marsh | Spokane, WA |

"How fortunate we are to have known such a decent human being as Coach Paul Blair. Our memories are numerous and all positive. We first met Paul when our now 23 year old daughter, Andrea, attended his summer swim camp at LRRC when she was a 10 year old USS Ohio swimmer. It was her first time away from home and her first experience training under a National/Olympic level swim coach. She found it a challenge to quickly rise to the level of expectation of his national level swimming group, but was inspired by their accomplishments and excited about the prospects of returning home to strive for "zone cuts" (which she did make later that summer). When the other girl swim campers left after one week, Paul and Mary Dawn took her into their home for the remainder of the camp, where she was treated like family and quickly bonded with their daughters. (She, like Paul, was teased for putting ketchup on her macaroni and cheese...must have been "an Ohio thing!") Andrea has continued to be passionate about competitive swimming, having recently completed her NCAA swimming career at University of Georgia, with numerous accolades. She is still committed to train as a post-grad Olympic qualifier, and is now coaching some little ones at Athens Bulldog Swim Club. We continued to cross paths with Coach Blair at numerous national level swim meets throughout her swimming career, and he was never a stranger. He will be fondly remembered. Our prayers are with his family."
Mary Ellen and Alex Georoff | Winter Park, FL |

"I have known Paul for many years and served on the coaching staff of an Olympic Festival team in Minnesota. I still remember the runs we used to take together challenging each other and enjoying theoutdoors and the exercise. He was a model for every coach in our profession. He will be missed."
Terry Maul | Tallahassee, FL |

"I am so very sorry for your loss. Coach Blair was a wonderful Coach and person. He will truly be missed.

Amber "Robinson" Herden

Amber Robinson Herden | Sherwood, AR |

"My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. Coach Blair will truly be missed in USA Swimming. He always cared so much for the athlete as a person. I could never thank him enough for all the support and encouragement he gave me during my swimming time.

All my love,
Mitzi Kremer Tighe "

Mitzi Kremer Tighe | Tampa , FL |

"He inspired me, and I would not be where I am today, if it weren't for him."
Michael LaCour | Jackson, TN |

"We were both very sorry to hear of Paul's passing. The world of swimming was a better place because of him and his graciousness and fairness. We will miss him."
Sue & Stan Stevens | Fort Smith, AR |

"I will miss him. It was so good laughing with him and talking to him even under the circumstances we were forced to face. See you later,Coach."
Lynne Pawlak | Mayflower, AR |

"Paul was a good freind of over 30 years. He was fun to be around at meets and clinic, and an inspiration to my coaching career.
My deepest sympathy go out to you and your children.
Mark "

Mark Boerner | Houston, TX |

"Sorry to read of your loss. It took me by surprise as I have been out of coaching since Nationals April 2001. Paul was one of my all time favorite people on deck; from the time we met in 1982 in Fayetteville until that last meet in Austin, we spent time at each meet catching up on what each other had been doing, both in the sport and in the other aspects of our lives. He was the highlight of a very rough meet (for most; it was a good meet for both of our clubs) in New Orleans- a Junior Championship in 1997, and was the unofficial host for the meet. He'll be and is missed. My best wishes to the family. "
Jim Keogh | Clemson, SC |

"I am sorry to hear that. Paul Blair was my coach in 1989 to 1991. Paul is nice guy and work so hard as coach. I wish I could visit to see him but I never did since 1991. My family do not live in Arkansas that's why. I really want to see him but too late for me. I pray for you all family and Former LRRC is now LRAD. You coaches - LRAD - please stay with LRAD forever for Paul Blair. "
Lori Huff - Wilson | Columbus, OH |

"Our thoughts are with your family. It was Paul’s vision that helped place a Team Dolphins at the furthest corner of the Country. We in the Pacific Northwest are so grateful to him for the opportunity he has given us. Coach Williams "
Jim Williams | Bellingham, WA |

"Dear Mary Dawne, Shawna, Lidann,and Marissa,
Wow, What an impact Paul had on people from all over the states, and I am sure throughout the world. I am mourning with you. And also crying with you. He is a tremendous loss. Not only as a swim coach but as a life coach.

When I think of your dad a lot of things come to mind.

"Do the right thing, Even when no one is looking, Do the right thing. Even if you have an Advantage, do the right thing.
If a deal is a good deal that means it is equally good for both parties. Do the right thing! ......
Always tell the truth because that way you don't have to remember what you have told Anyone. Do the right thing"

I have come to understand that these convictions were not self righteous or fundamentalist. Rather they were practical... I might call this philosophy utilitarianism. He believed that if you act in a certain way life will simply go better. And as a bonus, you can face the end of your life without shame and without guilt.

I think Paul, your husband, and Paul your father was
Honest without rectitude
Compassionate without weakness
Humourous without vulgarity
Decent without being parochial
Optimistic without being naive
Kind without illusions
Generous without expectation
And above all Thankful. Thankful and appreciative for everything in his life. Especially Mary Dawne and his girls.

I will always remember him and the life lessons he taught me and so many others who crossed his path. I think we can all learn from him even in his passing. I know I will take with me and share with my children the wisdom I have learned from your husband, and your dad. And I see your dad in all of you. He "Did the right thing" Be proud of him. He was loved by many and will be forever missed.
Much love,
Lori,Roger, Matt, Mia (Snyder) and Bo Emmet"

Lori Snyder | Little Rock, AR |

"Coach Blair,
wow. i don't even know how truly blessed I am to have had you as my coach for eight years. You always made me smile and even when i wasn't at my best you made me feel better even when you were going through wayy worse pain. So now...I will work ten times harder to make a sectional time...just for Coach Blair. W all love you SOOOOO much. To me, you'll always be on the pool deck telling me to get in the pool. I love you coach, always and forever.

Paige Greenwood | Little Rock, AR |

"Coach Blair was one of the kindest gentlemen that God ever created. He touched so many lives, it would take all year to list them. He was the type of man that all mommas want their sons to grow up to be like. Our prayers go out to his family. He will be greatly missed by all. Sincerely, the Moix family "
David, Tricia, and Kathleen Moix | conway, AR |

"Coach Blair has always been a constant in my swimming career. As a young swimmer, he was intimidating but as I grew older, I began to get to know him and truly appreciate everything that he had done for Arkansas Swimming. He was so easy going and enjoyable to talk to, and you couldn't help but notice that when you talked to him, you knew there was something very special about him, and you felt that it was a privilege to know him. I will miss him and Arkansas Swimming will never be the same. "
Ryan Bullock | Fort Smith, AR |

"I will miss you coach...i didn't know you very long, but you were an inspiration to me, Love you!


Danielle Peña | little rock, AR |

""Coach, do you know how much more I would accomplish if I didn't swim?" I asked one day at practice.

"A whole lot less, " was his answer. "Okay, gang. Five hundred, then five by 100s. Leaders, on the top."

It took me a few years to realize that Coach was right. That conversation took place the fall of my senior year of high school, just a few short months after Coach graciously offered me the opportunity to swim for him and live with his family. I know now that I would not be where I am now if it wasn't for that chance that he offered. I don't know what number kid I was that Coach and Mrs. Blair took in, but I know that I wasn't the first, and there were more after me.

That year, Coach taught me what is was to be a leader, and to lead by example. He also taught me that there is no substitute for hard work, and that everyday is a good day to train. He taught me that cross-training (i.e. running--weren't those Sunday morning runs great, Coach?) is always beneficial.

Coach loved practice. I really think one of his favorite times of the day was when he turned on the hallway light at 5 am to make sure that we woke up for practice. Wait, not only did the light come on, he also knocked on our doors and HAPPILY said, "Lindann, Marissa, Aubrey, it's time to get up and go to practice." And he couldn't ever understand why we were so quiet as we sat eating breakfast in the kitchen while he drank his tea (normally, it was hard for him to get a word in edgewise at any other time of the day). No, he never did complain about those early hours. In fact, he loved the summer when he would get up even earlier so that he could get his run in before practice at 6 am!

As I have gone through college and am now almost done with med school, that conversation eight years ago brings back so many memories, and Coach's wise words are more true now than ever. I only hope that I love my job as much as Coach loved his, and I hope that I can live up to his practice standards and care for patients as well as he cared for his family and his swimmers.

Mrs. Blair, Lindann, Marissa, and Shawna,

Thank you for sharing your home and Coach with me and everyone else. Each of you are truly amazing, and your entire family has made such a difference in so many people's lives. Thank you.

My thoughts are with you all.


Aubrey Slaughter | Little Rock, AR |

"My thoughts and prayers go out to the Blair Family. Coach was truely an inspiration to all who were luckly enough to have known him. He changed my life for the best. I will never forget him. He will be missed in the swimming world but the legacy he has created will live on."
Heather (Miller) Strobel | Fort Worth , TX |

"Dear Paul:

I once read that "Love is stronger than death".

So many people love you and your family for all the right reasons. You will travel along with your loved ones and those friends that remain here for now.

Please take care of Center know what I mean...I send the best wishes of health and good fortune to all of your loved ones....and please Have a Glorious Day!

Fernando, Mona, Francisco, Thor and Jordan Canales"

Fernando J. Canales | Ann Arbor, MI |

"Coach Blair was a great mentor and very influential in my professional career as a swim coach. He taught me so much by his example. I remember the first time I talked to him about coaching, he invited me down to Little Rock to observe a practice. That was the first of many times that he encouraged me and helped me understand the sport of swimming. He will be greatly missed in Arkansas swimming. My prayers go out to Mary Dawn and the girls. May God bless each of you with peace and comfort during this time of grief."
J. D. Yingling | Searcy, AR |

"Paul and I fist met when he was swimming at West Liberty and I was coaching the Wheeling Central High School swim team. When he got his first coaching job, at Linsly, we became good friends and we loved to compete against each others. It seemed that his team always won, but he always had time to work with my swimmers. I always knew he would be a great coach. He was a professional in his chosen field. He will be missed by all who knew him. Paul thanks for being a good friend. "
Jeff & Becky Freeman | Sarasota , FL |

"It was sad to hear of Paul’s passing. I know the Swimming Community will miss him especially there in Arkansas, The Arkansas Dolphins Swim Team, and UALR’s Women’s Swimming. I am blessed to have had the acquaintance of visiting with him during my trips home during all these years. It was inspirational to see him still coaching on the deck while battling.

My thoughts and Prayers are with you Mary and your girls."

Herb Brill | Bakersfield, CA |

"You are all in my thoughts and in my prayers. Coach Blair was an amazing coach and an even better person, my heart goes out to you."
Chris Bushelman | Kettering, OH |

"Simply said Paul was a great coaching mentor for me. Paul always supported me and my teams throughout the years.
I will miss Coach Paul Blair around the pool and in life.

Paul Murphy"

Paul Murphy | Santa Cruz , CA |

"We were so sad to hear when Paul was first diagnosed with Prostate Cancer as I had lost my own father to the same disease. He put up the fight of all fights. His determination is clearly just a small part of what he has passed on to hundreds and hundreds of Dolphin swimmers over the decades - a fight you can see in the water as they overtake swimmers time and time again! While visiting with Dolphin swimmers and parents during the Zones trip this summer, it was clear how much they truly, truly loved Coach Blair. Watching his alumni swimmers continue to surround him over the years speaks volumes of the impact he has had on their lives as they have grown into adults. Coach Blair is one of the nations most beloved coaches - "
John, Jackie, Bethany, Michael, Jennifer & Brandon Haefner - NWAA | Bentonville, AR |

"Perhaps I was one of the first Paul worked his magic on. Though we never kept in touch, I still want to send these few words of support from Hanoi, Vietnam, to the Blair family. I even had a good swim today in a local club pool thinking about Paul and how he had taught me so well the butterfly stroke that even at 55 comes easily to me... Thank Dana M and Wally M for spreading the word.
My love to you all

Ted Doughten | Seattle, WA |

"Yo 11. It was a phrase I will never forget. Paul always had words of encouragement for me and my athletes, and they always seemed to come at just the right time. My thoughts go out to the Blair family. "
JackYoung | St. Louis, MO |

"To my dear friends Jim, Brad, David, Barb and Family, I pray that you find peace during this unfortunate time and may you bring comfort to one another as well as those around you.
"So long as we live, they too shall
live, for they are now a part of us and
We remember Them. The moment is gone,
but the love is forever."
My sincere thoughts are with you all, and I wish I could be there to hug and comfort each and every one of you. All My Love, Rebecca Reed

Rebecca J. Reed-Reed Funeral Home | Canton, OH |

"To a dear friend and mentor. May Angles wings give you comfort. "
Peter Clark | Colorado , CO |

"We pray that God's protective power will surround you and comfort you. "
Roger and Susan Waldrep (Courtney's parents) | Texarkana, TX |

"Coach Paul was an inspration to us all. I was privliaged to have met him at a swim meet and he did so much for the sport of swimming in Arkansas. He will be truely missed by any person assocated with swimming in Arkansas. Thanks for all the great memories and people you inspired along the way. "
Steve Worthy | Searcy, AR |

"Paul was one of the class acts at the pool. As an official, he was a pleasure to work with. Always a smile, a good word, and a handshake. All of his many friends, family, swimmers are in my thoughts and prayers."
Jim Devine | Columbia, MO |

"Very sorry to hear of this sad news. I had not known Coach Blair very long. But, I can say it was a real treat sitting near him at the meets and listening to how he coached his swimmers. What a kind man...what a loss! My deepest sympathy and prayers go out to all his family and friends.

Coach JP

Juanita Pearson | Conway, AR |

"How blessed we were to have Paul touch our lives and that of our son tom's and to mary Dawn many thanks for your solid support of Paul, his swimmers and the are all in our thoughts and prayers."
liz and terry genz | little rock ar |

" There are allways those you meet who make everlasting impressios on you, Coach Blair was one of those people. He was not only pleasant to work with as a patient, but enjoyable and fun as a person. He fought his battle liked he caoched his teams with a lot of heart and determination.
His smiling face and his casualstride will greatly be missed around here. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this time

Physicians and Staff
Little Rock Cancer Clinic "

Paul Blair | Little Rock, AR |

" There are allways those you meet who make everlasting impressios on you, Coach Blair was one of those people. He was not only pleasant to work with as a patient, but enjoyable and fun as a person. He fought his battle liked he caoched his teams with a lot of heart and determination.

His smiling face and his casualstride will greatly be missed around here. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this time

Physicians and Staff
Little Rock Cancer Clinic "

Physicians and Staff, Little Rock Cancer Clinic | Little Rock, AR |

" It is people like coach Blair that make me understand why I enjoy my job, because you get to meet a lot of good people and he was certainly one of the good guys. I will miss his boyish smile and the way he could make me feel good even when he was feeling bad. I share your loss and will remember you in my prayers."
Doris @ LRCC.I | Little Rock, AR |

"I have been away from the swimming community for three years after 38 years of involvement in the great sport. Few people I had the privledge of meeting in all of those years, left me with such a positive impact. Paul's honesty, candor, sense of humor and integrity are equally intertwined to make him the person we all knew and loved about Paul. I have mostly stayed away from swimming websites for these three years but something told me to check today. Maybe Paul still is challenging me to find a way to make myself better?

I will leave these parting words for a dear friend who will never be completely gone from any life he touched.

I am here for just a moment
And now that moment is gone.
The blessings I had receive are many,
And the people who have inspired me rank in the thousands.

I am here for just a moment
And this time is fleeting.
I have experienced the highest of highs
And the lowest of lows
But mostly I have lived.

I am here for just a moment
What have I done to be remembered?
What cause did I serve?
Whose lives have I touched?
For whom did I comfort?

I am here for just a moment
And that time has come and gone
I lifted the spirits I could lift
I touched the lives I could have touched
I made a difference when others forgot to care.

I am here for just a moment
I took the chance I was given.
I was blessed with many friends,
And was given friendships that have no end.

I was here for just a moment
And the moment was my life
I feel I gave the best I had
To ease your pain and strife

No longer will I be here
To see me walk on by
I will forever be in your heart
As the physical is the only way I died.

The moment that I was here
Was the time I had to spend
All of you have touched me
That’s why you were my friend.

You put life into my living
You gave what you had to give
You taught me how to do the job.
You taught me how to live.

I have lived my life
I have done my job
I have given what I have
And now my time has passed.

Good bye my friends
A fond farewell I give.
You have forever changed my life…You taught me how to live. -Jim Lutz

Thank you Paul.

Jim Lutz | Lansing, MI |

"Wow! When I first heard the news I was greatly saddened by the loss of someone with so much passion for our athletes and the sport. Paul was truly one that fought against all odds for what he believed was best for his athletes. In sickness and in health Paul was always there. I First met Paul in 2001 at the first sectionals held in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We were both new to this series and had no idea what to expect. Paul's warm crooked little smile and his gentle demeanor made me feel welcome into unknown territory. Over the years since he always maintained that demeanor and smile but had also added that raised eyebrow, especiall when he not so sure as to what he was hearing. Always a gentleman, always with passion and respect. Now Paul rests with peace in knowing that while on this earth he made a difference in so many peoples lives. I have been honored to know Paul and will miss his presence and smile on the deck. With that same gentleness when we first met, we release you to a better place. "
Paul Jones | West Bloomfield, MI |

"Wow! When I first heard the news I was greatly saddened by the loss of someone with so much passion for our athletes and the sport. Paul was truly one that fought against all odds for what he believed was best for his athletes. In sickness and in health Paul was always there. I First met Paul in 2001 at the first sectionals held in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We were both new to this series and had no idea what to expect. Paul's warm crooked little smile and his gentle demeanor made me feel welcome into unknown territory. Over the years since he always maintained that demeanor and smile but had also added that raised eyebrow, especially when he was not so sure as to what he was hearing. Always a gentleman, always with passion and respect. Now Paul rests in peace in knowing that while on this earth he made a difference in so many peoples lives. I have been honored to know Paul and will miss his presence and smile on the deck. With that same gentleness as when we first met, we release you to a better place. "
Paul Jones | West Bloomfield, MI |

"I was so sorry to read about Paul. My thoughts and prayers are with you. "
Mary Lou Jaworski | North Little rock, AR |

Lynne Clark | North Little |

"Dear Mary Dawn, Marissa,Lindann,and Shawna,

I never had the pleasure of meeting Coach Blair, but after reading what his dear friends have said about him, it was truly my loss. He was a remarkable man and will truly be missed. I am praying for this family and that God will wrap HIS loving arms around you now and always. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

God Bless You,
Lynne Clark

Lynne Clark | North Little Rock, AR |

"So sorry to hear of your loss. He was a good friend and a great inspiration to so many."
Bob Rote | Wheeling, WV |

"Our thoughts and prayers are with during this time of grief. Paul was a friend and mentor to many. He will be greatly missed. May God be with
you during this time of sorrow."

Robert Jenkins-Little Rock Trophies | Little Rock, AR |

"Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this
time of grief. Paul was a friend and mentor to many. He will be greatly missed. May God be with
you during this time of sorrow."

Robert Jenkins-Little Rock Trophies | Little Rock, AR |

"Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this
time of grief. Paul was a friend and mentor to many. He will be greatly missed. May God be with
you during this time of sorrow."

Robert Jenkins-Little Rock Trophies | Little Rock, AR |

"I, along with my husband, Jay, would like to send our condolenses to Mary Dawn and the girls. I remember the first USA Swimming meet I attended as a coach at the Little Rock Racquet Club and met Paul Blair. To this day I will remain in awe of the standard of excellence in swimming he set in Arkansas. The bar he has set is one that the other teams in the state will continue to try to emmulate. We have all lost a mentor, a friend and a swimming leader. "
Carolyn and Jay Haefner | Bentonville, AR |

" Even though she may have been with another team or at a meet by herself, Coach Blair always was willing to listen to our swimmer, offer pointers or tips, and help in any way. For that matter, he would help ANY kid, regardless of who they swam for, excel at a sport which you could tell he loved so much. To the family of Coach Blair, our heartfelt sympathy goes ou to you, he was truly an inspiration to us all. Milam, Cindy and Chelsea Albright"
Milam, Cindy and Chelsea Albright | Hooks, TX |

"Now that my grandchildren are actively involved in the competitive sports, I can truly appreciate what a great coach Paul Blair was. Misty, Chris, and Robyn loved the swim team. The friends they made and the experiences they had helped to make them the persons they are today. Coach Blair was always kind and gentle. He brought out the best characteristics in the people he was around. He helped the kids to enjoy the sport they loved the most, while at the same time helping them to develop strong, healthy bodies. They all liked to win the medals and ribbons, but I think they enjoyed being a part of the swim team family. Not many of us will be able to touch the lives of young people in the way Paul Blair did. Thank you all for sharing him with all of us. Because of him, boys and girls were taught honesty, integrity, generousity, forgiveness, competitiveness, kindness, love, and control. Paul always protected, trusted, hoped, and persevered. He had faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these for us was love."
Carol Eiseman | Little Rock, AR |

"I have known Coach Blair since the summer of 1979 when he started coaching in LR. My brother, David, Greg Magness and I left Ft Smith to swim for him and the Dolphins that summer. I can still recall him running with the team thru the neighborhood of the LRRC. I remember him coming up to me and other team members and stating "push it". I remember the positive attitude and the focus on the team.
The values and attitudes that Coach Blair stressed that summer are still with me today. The Gean family will greatly miss Coach Blair."

Tom Gean | Bentonville, AR |

"I really enjoyed having him as my coach. He always encouraged me to do my best. I am praying for his family."
Sarah Pearce | Little Rock, AR |

"We are praying for your family. Coach Blair was so encouraging to his students. He influenced many lives. "
Phyllis Pearce | Little Rock, AR |

"Our families prayers are with the Blair family and the Dolphin family. Paul has not only been an inspiration and mentor to my career but more importantly he has also shown me what it means to be a great father and husband.

Coach you have touched us all in so many ways!"


"He was a great man and a great coach, but I will friend, Paul Blair."
Mavis Lansden | Little Rock, AR |

"I can't begin to express what an impact "coach" had on my life. He was a truly special man that gave so much to so many. When I met him, I was 11 and he 24 and to say that I thought he was the coolest guy I ever met would be an understatement. I had to laugh when I saw him in the photo above wearing shades, he taught me among so many other things that you should always wear sunglasses. I was thinking the other day of all the firsts I experienced with Paul Blair and they are just too numerous to mention. I actually even got to call him Paul for about a year before he legally changed his name to "Coach". I am just so sad that more kids will not get to experience and benefit from all he had to offer and his unique and special way of doing so. He was cool.

Rob Rote
ohio valley Y/Linsly/LRD'79"

Rob Rote | new orleans, LA |

"To the Blair Family,

On behalf of the Northwest Arkansas Aquatic family, our deepest sympathy and condolences go out to you and your family. For as long as I have been part of Arkansas Swimming, Paul and the Dolphins have been the benchmark of success within Arkansas Swimming. His presence at the meets will be missed, but he will never be out of our thoughts."

Patrick Carroll and Family | Bentonville, AR |

"My sincere condolences and prayers go out to coach’s entire family as well as the many friends that have surrounded him throughout the years. Like all of you, it is hard for me to accept that man who we affectionately called “COACH” is no longer with us on earth (but is now in a better place).

Unfortunately, like many others, I didn’t learn of coach’s passing until after the funeral. I suspect that many of you in the area know about the success “COACH” achieved while in Ark. However, for those of you that don’t know, COACH’s impact with his athletes, parents, and peers was seen almost immediately upon entering the coaching scene. To this group, I would like to share this early part of COACH’s background b\c I haven’t seen much written about it.

As far back as 1974 until COACH left Wheeling, WV in 1979, Paul Blair was the Swimming and Cross Country coach at Linsly (a 150 year old PREP School). There he inspired the school’s very first All American(s). During that same span of time, he also coached the Wheeling YMCA. It was here that he coached his 1st National Champion. COACH’s dynamic personality and positive influence inspired some swimmers to get up very early and drive several hours on a daily basis.

In 1973 (even before he met the love of his life, Mary Dawn), I had the pleasure of meeting “COACH”. On his own accord he convinced my parents that by attending Linsly, he would personally guarantee a complete, well rounded education that could not be equaled from my little town in Ohio. Needless to say, COACH delivered on his promise and taught me more than just what I learned from school. He always inspired a relentless work ethic and positive attitude. He informed all of us that “COACH” was a title that applied to more than what he taught us in the athletic arena, but it was a special title reserved for his athletes and respected peers.

Yet, for me to say that COACH was merely positive and always inspired us to be relentless about the pursuit of our objectives would not do him justice…he was extremely giving. As the saying goes, he would give you the shirt off his back (or in my case, COACH just dropped off his brand new 280ZX at the dorm and said, I don’t need it tonight, if you would like to use it, I’ll entrust it to you”) And based on what I know, his DNA never changed.

In parting, I would just like to say “COACH, I know that if you did all these great things for some kids you hardly knew, I can’t imagine the gifts you gave your family.” Obviously for their loss, I am most saddened. I know you will continue to look out for them from above! As I hope you know, I will miss you, but never forget you!”

Alex Welker
Wheeling YMCA, Linsly, Class of 77

Alex Welker | Suwanee, GA |

"Dear Blair Family,

Please accept my sincere condolences on Paul's passing. My father often spoke of Paul's contributions to Arkansas swimming, and, once my children began swimming, I finally realized how significant Paul's contributions indeed were. I particularly appreciate Paul's involvement with the Little Rock summer swim league. Most of the children involved in the league were never going to be great swimmers, at least not on our team, the Cammack Cruisers, but the league was a way to introduce the joys of competitve swimming to the young people of Little Rock. I will not soon forget that experience."

John Courtway | Conway, AR |

"David, Barb, Jim and Brad and all the Blair family,

I was saddened to learn today of Paul's passing. So many memories come back to me and I'm happy to be able to say Paul was a boy-hood friend.

So many memories. YMCA swim team, Miles Duhr, Tom Patton, the car wash, and the vanilla milk shakes we get at your grandfather's drug store. While I hadn't seen Paul in years I could always depend on Dana M for a report when I got back to Dover.

The 1967 DHS Class Predictions predicted that Paul would distinguish himself in swimming and swim the English Channel. Reading about all the lives he touched and enriched I'd say that prediction fell far short of the mark. "

Glenn Eichel | Lincolnville, ME |

"Coach...We made a pact those final days and I want you to know that i am honored to be marrying your daughter, Lindann. You have been with us throughout the entire planning process and no matter how stressful it becomes, we remember and embrace the strength you have placed inside of us. We look forward to you placing your blessing once again on us this coming January and please know, we love and miss you dearly. -Neil"
Neil Day | Little Rock, AR |

Paul was a friend and team mate at West Liberty State College.

I am sorry he is no longer here to inspire a positive attitude to all around him.

CharlieLAMT deliverance"

Charles Ridgely | N. Providence,R.I. |

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