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Obituary: Blair, J. Birney

BLAIR, J. Birney 8/22/1921 - 6/14/2014 Birney Blair passed away on Saturday, June 14th at his home in Spokane at the age of 92. At his side (as always), was his wife Marcy along with their daughter Pam. Birney is also survived by his four grand- children and six great-grandchildren whom he dearly adored. Birney, a life long Spokane resident and contributor to the community, was born here in 1921. He attended North Central High School where he was class President and Valedictorian. It was while attending N.C. that Birney first became interested in broadcasting. He worked part time for Spokane’s first radio station before traveling south to Walla Walla to attend Whitman College. There he continued his budding career in journalism and worked as a reporter for Walla Walla’s only radio station. In 1942, Birney entered the military to serve in WWII. He initially served as a private in the Army Air Corps and was stationed in England before returning to the U.S. to complete Officer Candidate School in Sioux City Iowa. It was there that he met his life long companion and devoted wife Marcy. Birney returned to active duty during the Korean War as an intelligence officer and was awarded the Bronze Star. He continued his military service as a civilian and eventually retired from the Air National Guard as a Lieutenant Colonel. Birney spent his entire professional career working for KHQ. He began as a radio reporter, then moved into sales and finally became the station’s President and General Manager in 1970. He loved his work and felt fortunate to help lead KHQ during the “hey day” of television. Birney received numerous awards during his tenure with KHQ including broadcaster of the year. He also served as president of the Washington State Association of Broadcasters and was instrumental in advocating for freedom of speech. In addition to his successful career as a broadcaster, Birney was actively involved in many charitable organizations including WAMPUM, The Spokane Indian Center, and the local symphony. He also served on various boards, including that of Manito Golf & Country Club where he could often be found playing golf with his family and many, many close friends. Although Birney’s accomplishments are many, those who knew him best will remember him for his generous heart and colorful personality. He was a world-class storyteller and comedic savant with impeccable timing. Above all else, he was a generous and loving family man with a wide and loyal circle of friends. So raise a glass and join us in celebrating a life very well lived. Goodbye Birney, although we will miss you, your legacy lives on. There will be a memorial service held for Birney on Saturday, June 28th at 12:30 at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to either the Spokane Symphony or the Museum of Arts and Crafts.