Johnny Ellis Blair, 78, of Washington, DC, passed away peacefully at the Washington Home Capital Caring Health hospice in Sibley Memorial Hospital on November 6, 2023.
Johnny was born in Chicago, Illinois, at Cook County Hospital in 1945 to Mamie Woods. Fifty years later, in the nation’s capital, he would meet, fall in love with, and marry a delightful fellow Chicagoan who was born at the same hospital. Together, Johnny and his “Cookie,” Cozette Ballesteros, shared over twenty-two years of love, laughter, affection, and friendship and cared for their feathery children, parakeets Paris, Lemon, and the late Butters.
A graduate of the University of Illinois, Johnny was passionate about his career in the survey research field and was a nationally recognized expert. He was a principal scientist and senior survey methodologist at Abt Associates, Inc., where he directed the Cognitive Testing Laboratory at the University of Maryland. Johnny was a member of the Design and Analysis Committee, which provides statistical advice for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often called The Nation’s Report Card. He co-authored, with Edward Blair and Ronald Czaja, Designing Surveys (3rd edition). In addition to being a Fellow of the American Statistical Association, he served as a Senior Fellow at the National Institute of Statistical Sciences.
Johnny’s circle of close-knit friends from work and college knew him as a private, kind, loyal, and thoughtful person with a signature dry sense of humor. His best friend, Ed Blair, was like a brother to him.
Johnny had a wide and fascinating range of cultural tastes and hobbies. He was a man of travel and learning who played chess, appreciated art and music, and read and wrote poetry, with Emily Dickinson as his favorite. Johnny was an activist who marched for immigrants’ rights, universal healthcare, and voting rights. Yet he was also thrilled to shoot pool, go to the movies nearly every Saturday to watch the latest action flicks with his wife or stay at home to indulge in his favorites like beer, cheese, 1950-60s Japanese monster movies, martial arts films, or South Park and the Family Guy. Johnny was also known to be a bit of a prankster who would affectionately tease his wife by hiding Christmas decorations during the holidays.
Johnny was a beloved husband, trusted friend, and wonderful son, son-in-law, brother-in-law, and uncle. He was a gentleman, a quiet strength and a deep soul. We love and miss him very much.
Private services will be held on November 17. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Johnny’s memory to the Capital Area Food Bank at capitalareafoodbank.org.
Funeral Services are Private