Editor’s Note: The staff of NDG joins the community in honoring Mr. Blair and extending our sympathies to his family and the Dallas Elite News staff.
DALLAS – William “Bill” Blair Jr., former Negro League Pitcher and Founder of Dallas’ Elite News died Sunday, April 20, 2014 at the age of 92. Mr. Blair had been hospitalized over the past month recuperating from a lengthy illness.
A Dallas native, Bill Blair has been a community voice in Dallas for more than six decades. He attended Booker T. Washington High School and Prairie View A&M University. After six months at Prairie View A&M, Blair enlisted in the United States Army and became the youngest Black first sergeant in the United States Army during World War II. A Negro League Baseball Museum inductee, Mr. Blair pitched from 1946 to 1951 for the Indianapolis Clowns and other Negro League teams. His baseball career includes pitching a no-hitter in the Denver Post Tournament, playing with the late Winfield Welch, Jesse “Hoss” Walker and Buster Haywood. He toured with Jesse Owens and the Harlem Globetrotters. Mr. Blair was instrumental in the development of the African American Museum’s Texas Sports Hall of Fame and served on the advisory board. He was inducted in 1996 as a member of the inaugural class.
Mr. Blair founded the Highlight News (1947-1957). He later founded the Southwest Sports News, a newspaper that specialized in publishing scores from Black college games throughout the United States. The newspaper was renamed The Elite News(pronounced E-Light) in 1960. To this day, the Elite News is considered one of the most influential weekly black newspapers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Mr. Blair has been a civil rights activist for more than six decades. He has also been a major force in local and state politics for many years and has served as an advocate for pastors across the country. In 2004, he founded the Religious Hall of Fame to honor African American ministers and religious leaders. Most recently, Mr. Blair was donated his personal documents, memorabilia and the library of Elite News to the University of Texas at Arlington Special Collections Library.
This past January, Mr. Blair participated in the 28th Annual Elite News Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade and was in attendance at the accompanying festivities that included the press conference and corporate breakfast. He greeted all of the parade marshals, sponsors and attendees shaking hands and taking pictures. His final public appearance was on February 28, 2014 at the AnnualElite News Awards that he founded years ago to honor Dallas community leaders and citizens for the work they do for the community that is most times overlooked.
On Saturday, hundreds gather at the William “Bill” Blair Jr. Park, formerly Rochester Park that was renamed in his honor in 2011, for the Elite News Eggstravaganza Easter Egg Hunt.
Bill Blair loved people, enjoyed being in the community and was known for planning parades and events to recognize achievements in the Dallas metroplex, most notably high school championship teams.
While the other minority-based publications focus on South Dallas, there is only ONE newspaper that focuses on African-Americans in North Dallas and the surrounding areas. It’s the North Dallas Gazette, a good choice when you want to reach a true representation of Dallas African-American consumers.