Dr. Robert Blair, MD, is a Frankfortian through and through.
Having lived in Frankfort since he was 5 years old, he went to the old Bridgeport school, then Second Street School and graduated from Frankfort High in 1961.
Blair is the son of Murvel and Ruth Blair. His father was a pediatrician. His original office was on Third Street across from the old King Daughters Hospital. In 1974, he moved the office to 4 Physicians Park, where it is still located.
After high school, Blair decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and go to medical school. He went to the University of Kentucky for his undergraduate degree, then the University of Louisville for his medical degree.
“Watching dad work and be happy and seeing what he meant to the community and how he helped the community” is what Blair said enticed him to become a pediatrician.
He completed his internship at Maricopa hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, and came back to Louisville for his residency. In 1972, he moved back to Frankfort to join his father’s practice. They worked together until his father died at age 72 in 1988.
At 76 years old, Blair is still working, however, he said he “cut” back to 40 hours a week.
Blair has been married to his wife, Linda, for 30 years.
“I couldn’t do it without Linda,” Blair said. “Trying to tie everything together and juggle the life we have.”
FRANK.: How has the pediatrician field changed over the years?
Blair: It’s different from when I started. When I started it was fun trying to find things and excitement of sick babies getting better, it was high intensity. Now, I’m taking care of babies that I took care of their grandparents. I know all about them.
It’s rewarding to be included in that part of their lives — having new babies. That’s the fun part of it, being part of that longevity.
FRANK.: What do you like about living in Frankfort?
Blair: It’s small and it’s multicultural for a small town. Kentucky State University and state government has made it a place that has hired people from all over the world.
I went to school at Second Street with kids from other countries. I didn’t know what prejudice was at that point. A lot of my friends were African Americans. I liked that about Frankfort.
It has been open and accepting of people who are different. The university and state government has made it a stable town. The concept of education is important.
Going to FHS was like going to college prep school. When I graduated, 92% of my class went to college.
FRANK.: Do you think you’ll ever fully retire?
Blair: I don’t want to fully retire. If I did, it would be because I have bad health. I want to be the oldest working pediatrician in the state. My office manager and Linda told me they will tell me if they ever start to see me slip.
FRANK.: What do you do when you’re not working?
Blair: I like to swim. I swim six out of seven days a week. I have a garden. I grow orchids and I grow vegetables. I love to go on vacation. I like to practice my Spanish. I did a tropical medicine fellowship once in Guatemala.
I thought at one point I would be a missionary. I got immersed quickly during my fellowship. It was three months long. When I came back, I had all this new respect. I thought I would want to pay them back for all the things they did for me.
Linda and I go to Honduras the first week of August every year. This year, I saw 680 kids in one week. We work out of a school they turn into a makeshift clinic.
Linda and I also go to Mexico every year for an annual honeymoon in February. We’ve also been to Costa Rica, Panama, next year we’re going to California and doing a Caribbean tour of the coast.
I love to get away in the wintertime.
FRANK.: What do you like so much about going to Honduras?
Blair: To see a little baby and check it over and make sure everything looks good and the families are so thankful. That’s a fun thing to do — to tell people they’re not sick and when they do find something we can send them for free to the capital to get care. We pay for their bus ride and food.
The people are so grateful. We’ve been going to Honduras for 17 years. We go with a Baptist medical dental international group out of Alabama. They send 70 teams to Honduras.
Linda serves as my first assistant. She loves and hugs on the babies and gives them a Beanie Baby and changes diapers. She does the mothering part.
FRANK.: Outside of your practice, what else are you involved with in Frankfort?
Blair: I’m a church organist at first Christian Church.. I did that way before I was a doctor. I started when I was 14 years old — since my legs were long enough to reach the pedals.
Linda and I are also a part of the BARF group with Holice and the late Mike Rosenstein, Nancy and Ed Ball, Bill and Pracilla Barnes, Peg and Randy Harmon, Sally Jump, Carolyn Fetterer and Marion and Derek Smith. We have get-togethers and meet for dinner.
FRANK.: Any health tips for readers?
Blair: I’m a big supporter of early cancer detection and good treatment. I’m a survivor of both prostate and kidney cancer at the same time. I’ve been in remission for 11 years. I’m a proponent for early diagnosis and treatment. Cancer screenings are so important. I can’t stress that enough.
I’m an intense proponent of a healthy lifestyle — Mediterranean diet, spiritual life, exercise, rest supplementation and mindfulness. You don’t want to be the kind of person that gets cancer in your 40s. Keep your immune system up.
FRANK.: What are your hopes for the future of Frankfort?
Blair: It’s always going to be a nice town to live because of the economical stability state government and KSU provide.
I hope it continues to be a wonderful place to raise kids and to come back to. Everyone wants to be happy. That’s what people look for.