Christian 04

Rev. James "Jim" Blair

June 10, 1933 ~ February 17, 2023 (age 89) 89 Years Old
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Rev. James P. Blair, 89 of Harlan, entered his eternal home to the words “Well done, good and faithful servant” on February 17.

Jim was born on June 10, 1933, to Ben & Belle (Clark) Blair. He was raised in various towns across Kentucky. Jim served his country in the Army during the Korean War from 1953-1956. After returning home, he continued his military service in the Army Reserves. Jim began his pursuit of higher education at Berea College. The greatest treasure he ever found was at a folk dance at Berea College, when he discovered his lifelong dance partner Martha Fitch Blair. They wed on December 31, 1957.

Words seem inadequate in summing up a life as well lived as Jim’s was. He pastored his little church on the hill, Sunny Acres First Church of God, for over 40 years. Even after he “retired,” he continued to shepherd those who trusted him as their pastor. Jim was a faithful servant of his Lord & Savior, even during his final months in hospice care. He never wavered in the goodness of God, despite his physical circumstances.

Jim retired as Director of Admissions and Counseling from the Cumberland Campus of Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College. Many times, students he had counseled and encouraged to pursue higher education would seek him out to thank him for how he had shaped their life through his role at the college.

Even in retirement Jim never slowed down. He and Martha were foster parents for 20 years, helping countless children through difficult times in their lives. He enjoyed gardening and caring for small farm animals. Through his ministry at Sunny Acres, coupled with teaching his love of folk dancing in area schools, he became “Pa Jim” to many children in Harlan County that he meant so much to.

Jim is preceded in death by his parents: Ben & Belle (Clark) Blair. Special foster parents, Howard and Maude Bramlett. His son Ken Blair, whom he affectionately called Ken-dew. Brothers: Alp Blair and John L. Blair. Sister: Janice Ball Fields. Brothers-in-Law: Curtis Fitch and Verdin Fitch. Sister-in-law, Ardella Green. Former son-in-law, Steve Sergent.

Left to mourn Jim’s passing are his wife of 65 years, Martha E. Blair. His daughter, Sheila Kaye (Dave) Marantette. Three granddaughters: Becky (TJ) Riggs, Hannah (Eric) Greene, and Rachel (Henry) Tully. Four great-grandchildren: Leah, Isaac, Alia, and Elliot James. Sister, Elizabeth Wills. Sister-in-law, Bonnie (Raymond) Grigsby. Brothers-in-law Tom (Debbie) Fitch, Mikel (Barbara) Fitch, and Otis R. (Barbara) Fitch. A bonus son, Stephen Moore. A special friend, who is like family, Marsha Sergent.

The family will receive friends on Monday, February 20th , beginning at 4:00 at Sunny Acres First Church of God. Rev. Astor L. Simpson will preside over the service, beginning at 7:00. Jim will be laid to rest at the Peaceful Cemetery, near his home, on Tuesday, February 21st  with Military Burial Honors being performed by the Harlan County Honor Guard.

In lieu of flowers, Jim would like donations to be made to one of the following: Living Water Ministries, Harlan County Senior Citizens Center, Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, WVJC singing groups. Serving as pallbearers: Jim A. Blair, Eric J. Greene, Ray Grigsby, Britt Lawson III, Mark Lawson, Dave Marantette, Tommy Massingale, TJ Riggs, Henry Tully, and Leah Wiseman.

The family is grateful to all who visited Pa Jim and helped with his care. Special thank you to Hospice of the Bluegrass, VA Homemakers, Shannon Middleton, Tommy & Pam Massingale, Linda Osborne, Cecil & Louann Philpot, Virgil “Doc” Green, his VA Community Based Primary Care team, Scott and Robin Bottom and their family, Tim Messer, Lisa Johnson, and Howard Engineering and Geology.

On behalf of the staff of the Henson & Rich Funeral Home we would like to offer our heartfelt sympathy to the family during your time of bereavement.

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