For his unflagging dedication to local nonprofit causes, Westerville City Councilman Dennis A. Blair was honored by the Rotary Club of Westerville with its 2023 A. Monroe Courtright Volunteer Service Award.
Blair was presented with the Courtright Award, the club’s highest honor for nonclub service, during the Rotary’s luncheon April 27 at the Villa Milano Banquet & Conference Center. The award has been presented each spring for the last 47 years to a Westerville resident or volunteer organization.
Courtright was the longtime editor and publisher of Westerville’s historic hometown newspaper, The Public Opinion. Founded in 1867, its successor community newspaper, the ThisWeek Westerville News & Public Opinion, was folded in January 2023 by the Gannett Corp.
Courtright also was a charter member the Rotary Club of Westerville, founded in 1959. He died unexpectedly just a month into his term as the club’s president in 1977, and the club launched the community service award in his honor.
Courtright was known for his strong support of Westerville, and his strong opinions, expressed weekly in a front page column in the PO titled, “You May Quote Us as Saying.” Off the front page, his private philanthropic efforts were less well known. Westerville families and groups in need were often helped with cash gifts received in the mail, accompanied by unsigned, hand-written letters in Courtright’s spidery scrawl. Though he publicly donated to multiple philanthropic causes in town, including the naming gift to build Otterbein University’s library, the newspaper publisher had no wish to publicize continual, small-scale giving.
The Courtright Award recognizes outstanding community service by a leader or volunteer that is both “significant and sustained.” This service must come without pay, not as part of one’s paid job.
In exactly that vein, Blair is an exemplary public servant to Westerville, said Westerville Rotarian and City Councilwoman Megan Reamsnyder, who nominated Blair for the award.
“Dennis is the type of person who sees a need and finds a way to fill it or connect with someone who can,” Reamsnyder said. “Dennis has made time for his numerous volunteer commitments while growing a small business located here in Westerville and raising a family and fostering and eventually adopting a son,” she said in her nomination.
Married to his wife Debra, he has three children – Heather and grandchild Annabella, Connor and wife Rachel, Joseph and grandchild Janiya.
Blair was elected to Westerville City Council in 2021 but has been civically active in the community for more than a decade. He is the owner of Blair IT, an information technology services company with Westerville offices on McCorkle Boulevard. He offers meeting space in the same building for several local nonprofits.
He is member of the Rotary Club of Westerville Sunrise, and chairman of its Field of Heroes event held each Memorial Day weekend.
Other examples of his volunteer service to the community and recognitions are legion. “A few” cited by Reamsnyder included:
- Former chairman of Westerville’s Uptown Review Board;
- Founding member of Uptown Westerville Inc., and chairman of its Design Committee;
- Co-chairman of the “Imagine Westerville! Comprehensive Community Plan;”
- 2019 COSI StemStar;
- Volunteered with the 2019 police levy campaign;
- Tour guide of Uptown during the international Intelligent Community Forum’s visit to Westerville, which resulted in the city being named an ICF Top 7 Intelligent Community in 2020;
- 2020 Charter Review Commission member;
- Honored with a school district-wide Great Education Mentor (G.E.M.) Award by Westerville Parent Council;
- Representative of the Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce on the Westerville Business Advocacy Council;
- Longtime committee member of the MLK Legacy Project;
- Treasurer and longtime member of the Arts Council of Westerville;
- Member of the Westerville Historical Society;
- Member of Westerville Education Challenge;
- A driving force behind the Westerville Education Challenge’s effort to establish the Hope Squad Program locally. The peer-to-peer suicide-prevention program has grown and positively affected students in Westerville’s middle and high schools over the past few years; and,
- Founding member of The Big Bus.
“Dennis is the kind of person who gives what he can without any desire for public recognition or accolades,” Reamsnyder said in her nomination. “His service to the community has cost him untold hours and dollars and yet he still enthusiastically says YES. ….
“He was, and remains humble and committed to ‘Service Above Self.’ You would be hard pressed to find any other individual in this city so selfless and optimistic about the possibilities for our community,” she said.
CAPTION: Pictured after the 2023 Courtright Award presentation on April 27 are (from left) 2022-23 Rotary Club of Westerville President Jim Meacham, Rotarian and Westerville City Councilwoman Megan Reamsnyder, Courtright winner, Sunrise Rotarian and Westerville City Councilman Dennis A. Blair, and John Oleyar, chairman of the club’s Courtright Award Committee.
The Rotary Club of Westerville
Founded in 1959, the Rotary Club of Westerville is a service club of business professionals and leaders working to improve our community and larger world. We are part of Rotary International. Find out more at WestervilleRotary.com. Contact the Club and learn how to join at westervillerotary.com/contact-form. Read more about the Rotary International organization at Rotary.org.
Interested in joining?
The Rotary Club of Westerville is accepting applications for new membership.
The best way to pursue membership is to contact an existing Club member, and attend one of our lunches or events as her or his guest. Members of the public also are welcome to attend our events on their own, to see what our service club is all about. If possible, please give notice of your intent to attend a luncheon or social by emailing WestervilleRotaryEvents@gmail.com.
We hope to see you soon!