Newell Blair, 97, a Washington lawyer and businessman who founded three legal newsletters, died of pneumonia June 14 at Goodwin House West in Falls Church, where he lived.
Mr. Blair first lived in Washington as a child during World War I while his father served with the Salvation Army in France and his mother, who later co-founded the Women's National Democratic Club, worked in the U.S. War Department.
Many years later, Mr. Blair told his children that even then, Washington's unusual street pattern confounded many residents, but not him. Wearing roller skates and a face mask, he learned to navigate the city while local schools were closed during the influenza epidemic of 1918. He also told his children that many of the silent movie theaters in the small, segregated Southern town began each show with the pianist playing "Dixie" while the audience stood.
When World War I ended, Mr. Blair returned with his family to his home town of Carthage, Mo. He attended Yale University and graduated from the University of the South in 1929. He received a law degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1932.
Mr. Blair's first legal job in Washington was in 1934 with the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and then with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In 1938, he left government service to start a law practice with his father. When his father retired in 1962, Mr. Blair closed the firm and moved into the business realm while continuing to practice law.
In 1964, he started and then headed a mutual fund for the National Education Association. It eventually was folded into the Horace Mann Fund. Teacher Services Corp., which Mr. Blair also started, is still in operation, offering a variety of economic services to NEA members, including a credit card, a travel agency, and life insurance.
In 1970, Mr. Blair started a legal newsletter, Corporate Reorganization Reporter, which followed the bankruptcy proceedings of the Penn Central Railroad. His second publication, Bankruptcy Court Decisions, was targeted to bankruptcy attorneys and referees or judges. His last major publication, Special Education Reporter, is now the Individuals with Disability Education Act Reporter.
Mr. Blair sold his firm to LRP Publications in 1988 and retired.
Mr. Blair was a member of the Metropolitan Club, the National Press Club and the Burning Tree Club. He held the oldest membership at the Belle Haven Country Club; when he joined in 1938, the initiation fee, now $60,000, was $25. He was one of the oldest members of St. Paul's Church in Alexandria, which he joined in 1942, a lifetime member of the American Law Institute, and a fellow in the American College of Bankruptcy.
Survivors include his wife of 69 years, Greta Flintermann Blair of Falls Church; four children, Harry W. Blair of Washington and New Haven, Conn., James N. Blair and Gwenda Linda, both of New York, and Katherine Salant of Ann Arbor, Mich.; and seven grandchildren.