Robert Blair’s Impactful Role in Williamson County
By Johnny Birdsong
Happy New Year! I am excited about 2024 and all it has to offer. A new year allows us to start in new ways to better our lives. One of those is finding ways to be of help to others and give back to our amazing community.
“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”
- Booker T. Washington
The living, walking, talking proof of that quote is exemplified in this issue’s “A Southern Gentleman Is” guest, Mr. Robert Blair.
When I think about those gentlemen in our community who make it so special by their involvement, leadership and giving back to make it better, Robert immediately comes to mind. Always smiling, always courteous and always involved, I asked Robert to tell us a little bit more about himself, what motivates him, and what it means to be a Southern Gentleman.
How long have you lived in Williamson County? What do you love about it?
RB: I have lived in Franklin all my life. I love being downtown and seeing cars stop to let people cross the street. It exemplifies that hometown feeling of hospitality.
Aside from work and leading, what do you enjoy doing with your time?
RB: Spending time with family and friends, going to church and traveling.
What specific causes or organizations are you currently involved with, and why did you choose them?
RB: I’m currently in my twentieth year on the Franklin Special School District Board. Education is a passion, working with kids and especially learning from them. I serve on the Leadership Franklin Board, TMA Board and Gentry Educational Foundation. I also enjoy being a member of the Downtown Franklin Rotary Club.
Can you describe a particularly memorable or impactful experience you’ve had while volunteering?
RB: Once, during a Christmas shopping event, one of the kids was adamant about purchasing items for his entire family before himself; I was very touched by his actions.
How has your perspective on community service changed over the course of your involvement?
RB: We are blessed in Williamson County to have so many wonderful charities. I believe you choose the one you have passion for and have time to commit. Giving is a gift to be given.
Are there any collaborative projects or initiatives that you are particularly excited about?
RB: We are building a new central office on Eddy Lane for the Franklin Special School District. It will house all our employees and serve the community. Our new Performing Arts Center and FSSD Legacy Gallery on the Poplar Grove Campus. It’s a must-see! We are very excited about these additions.
What do you feel has been your most impactful achievement, personally and professionally?
RB: I really believe in the conversations and lives you touch that don’t get publicity and the relationships you build and sustain. Being a part of the Franklin Special School District Board and recently being named The State of Tennessee 2023-2024 School Board Member of the Year have also been great accomplishments of mine.
What motivates you every day?
RB: I have been blessed, and the opportunity to bless others and share is a small way to give back. Connecting others to services and providing resources is enjoyable for me.
Do you have a motto you live by?
RB: “You may not be the best at everything but, at everything, give it your best.”
What advice would you give the younger generation today, and what would you tell your younger self?
RB: Listen to others to learn, find your talents and use them to make your community better, and you will enhance your life and others.
What do you feel it is to be a gentleman, and what traits does a Southern Gentleman embrace?
RB: I was brought up with such values as opening the door for people and addressing them with “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am.” I continue to do that today (it can be tricky in our politically correct society). It is okay to yield and be humble, even when you may be right.
Thank you, Robert. You give your best, and our community is better because of you - A role model, with a servant’s heart and above all, a gentleman.
I am proud to know Robert and for the privilege of calling him my friend. Let’s take a little inspiration away from Robert’s example, and find ways to give with this new year.
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” – John Bunyan