April 2021

Mr. San Diego A longtime colleague recalls the sweeping legacy of San Diego Magazine ’s former editor

by Ron Donoho

Former San Diego Magazine editor-in-chief Tom Blair passed away earlier this year due to complications from Alzheimer’s at the age of 74. A consummate storyteller, he was beloved by readers and was a magnetic personality within local media circles.

Being relatively new to San Diego, I quickly discovered that my editor was—way before Ron Burgundy uttered the line in Anchorman —“kind of a big deal.”He had Johnny Carson charisma and Dick Clark energy. As a boss, Tom could be as manic as Michael Scott, more gregarious than Captain Stubing, but always enigmatically cool like Mr. Roarke. My new editor had a singing gig at an event in Balboa Park. I figured it’d be smart office politics to pop in, make points, and scurry off. Hearing him croon Sinatra covers took me aback. He was a solid and engaging performer. I stayed for the whole show. Soon afterward, Tom took me to lunch at Dobson’s Bar & Grill. At his ever-brisk pace, we walked there from the magazine’s downtown office inside the First National Bank Center (now 1 Columbia Place). Dobson’s was the preeminent

A year after freshly minted publisher Jim Fitzpatrick hired him to edit San Diego Magazine , Tom hired me as a staff writer. He promoted me to executive editor and we worked together for 12 years—from 1996 to 2008. Here are just some of my memories of what it was like to exist within his universe.

18 APR I L 2021

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