Friends and colleagues called her “The Tall One”.
Jan Phenix Blair was an occupational therapist in Yukon from 1995 to 2000.
Her mother, Anne Blair, told me that when Jan entered a room – whether a classroom, a large university event, or a small cabin in northern Yukon – she was like a magnet; people were drawn to her.
Blair was a tall, vivacious young woman who loved every minute of the day and relayed that enthusiasm to all people she met along life’s pathway.
In 1995, Jan Phenix Blair was hired by physiotherapy department head and well-known storyteller Susan Klassen, whom she greatly admired. She told her mum Klassen was the reason she moved to Whitehorse. Eventually, Blair moved from the hospital to Social Services downtown.
Blair’s interesting middle name comes from her father, Mervin, who died just before Jan was born. Sadly, in addition to all his good qualities, she also inherited his heart condition.
Blair and her husband Andrew lived in Whitehorse from 1995 to 2000 before moving closer to family in Winnipeg. They ended up in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Blair’s mum shared some wonderful memories with me.
Blair occasionally attended a hotel bar where she and husband enjoyed the Peters Drury Trio and other local acts. Blair actually sent her mother an autographed copy of the Peters Drury Trio’s CD.
On one of her mother’s visits, Blair took her on a hike at Wolf Creek. Then they visited Emerald Lake. Anne Blair also remembers a hike behind Yukon College on one very dark evening when they became “a little lost”.
When Blair passed away in December 2002 her friends in Whitehorse decided to dedicate a memorial bench in her memory. The bench has a special view of the mighty Yukon River along the Millenium Trail.
In August 2004 Anne Blair and Jan’s husband Andrew flew to Whitehorse for an amazing gathering of Yukon friends to dedicate the bench to Jan’s memory.
Anne Blair recently visited Whitehorse with a girlfriend who was especially fond of Jan and who wanted to sit on “the bench”.
Three of Jan and Andrew’s favourite couples entertained mother and friend one evening. It speaks volumes that Blair’s friends have kept in touch with her mum for the past 10 years.
On that recent summer evening, the bench was toasted with cups of coffee and decorated with Jan Blair’s favourite flower, the sunflower.
The dedication on the bench reads:
In Loving Memory of
Jan Phenix Blair
1969 – 2002
Who lived generously, praised loudly, and lived fully.
A beautiful tribute to a young woman who, while here in the Yukon, made the community a richer place.