Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Blair Ewing Passes Away

Following is the press release from the Montgomery County Council.

Former Montgomery County Councilmember, School Board Member Blair G. Ewing Passes Away

Council President Andrews: ‘His Impact on Public Education in
Montgomery Was Greater Than Any Other Single Person’

ROCKVILLE, Md., June 30, 2009—Former Montgomery County Councilmember and former member of the Montgomery County Board of Education Blair G. Ewing passed away today. Mr. Ewing, until very recently a member of the Maryland State Board of Education, was 76.

Mr. Ewing was elected as an at-large member of the Montgomery County Council in November of 1998 and served through 2002, chairing the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee and serving on the Transportation and Environment Committee. He lost in his bid for re-election in a September 2002 Democratic primary.

Prior to his election to the County Council, he served 22 years on the Montgomery County Board of Education. He was elected to the Board of Education six times and twice served as the board’s president.

Mr. Ewing, a native of Missouri and graduate of the University of Missouri, retired from the federal government in 1998 after 28 years of service, 22 as a senior executive in four federal agencies (the Department of Defense, the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Justice).

“Blair Ewing provided so many years of tireless service to the residents of Montgomery County. His unparalleled service made a lasting impression in the County,” said Council President Phil Andrews. “He made lasting contributions in public education, mental health services and integrity in government, among other areas. He was highly intelligent, gracious, effective and had a delightfully dry sense of humor. His impact on public education in Montgomery County was greater than that of any other single person. I had the pleasure and honor of serving on the Council with Blair Ewing for four years. The community has lost an outstanding leader who always put the public interest first.”

Mr. Ewing constantly said, “Education is the highest of all priorities in Montgomery County.”

Mr. Ewing was strong proponent of what has become known as “Smart Growth.” In an assessment of County priorities he issued in November 2001 as Council President, he said, “We must use all the tools at our disposal to place growth where it belongs, near transit and transit stations, require developers to pay a fair share of the costs of growth, use the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance and the Annual Growth Policy to restrain growth until we have truly been able to find the funds to build the needed schools and roads, build stronger protections for open space and for air quality, water quality and protections against noise pollution.”

Mr. Ewing came from a long line of public servants. One grandfather was the chief justice of the State Supreme Court in Missouri. His father was the mayor of a small town in Missouri and served for more than two decades as a school board member. His uncle, James T. Blair, was a governor of Missouri. Mr. Ewing traced ancestors who lived in Montgomery County to 1700, including those who helped found St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Rock Creek Parish, in 1712. [That church is now in Washington, D.C.]

Mr. Ewing, who lived in Silver Spring, is survived by his wife, Martha Brockway.

He was a member of the Montgomery County Human Relations Commission, the Education Foundation’s board of directors and a civic association in Silver Spring.

Following his election as Council president in December of 2000, Mr. Ewing told The Journal Newspapers: “I am a big believer in the role government can play in the solution of problems. I am not one of those who subscribes to the notion that government is the source of the problems.”

Statements by current Councilmembers on Blair Ewing:

Nancy Floreen: “He was a truly dedicated community leader.”

George Leventhal: “Blair made so many contributions to our County, from his years of service on the Board of Education to his advocacy for the mentally ill and for children, as chairman of the County Council’s Health and Human Services Committee, to his recent outstanding service on the State Board of Education. He was a public servant of tremendous integrity.”

Duchy Trachtenberg: “Blair Ewing was a compassionate, enormously dedicated public servant whose work ethic was legendary and whose record of accomplishment was exemplary. I first got to know Blair during my advocacy for the mentally ill, and I came to deeply admire, respect and love Blair for his unswerving commitment to delivering quality, affordable mental health services. Blair Ewing counseled me, mentored me and inspired me. I will miss him terribly.”