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If you told Courtney S. Blair ’19 she couldn’t do something, she wasn’t discouraged. She was determined to prove you wrong.
“She was a ceiling breaker, she was somebody who lifted up others as she climbed, she just defied the odds in every imaginable way,” her brother Everton L. “E.J.” Blair ’13 said. “If you told her something couldn’t be done, she was going to prove to you after the fact that it could be done, after she had done it.”
Blair’s perseverance and leadership made the Dunster House senior—who died Friday—a role model in every community she was a part of, friends and family said. They praised her ability to excel on campus and beyond, all while remaining a humble, generous, and supportive friend.
Emily Corrigan ’19 wrote in an email that Blair’s “warmth and the enormous capacity of her loving heart” made her a compassionate friend and a “really strong role model for a lot of people.”
“She was so earnest and in conversation she always seemed not only to listen but also to deeply consider,” Corrigan wrote. “She was open to everyone and had a smile that could make people feel instantly comfortable talking to her.”
Blair’s focus on others extended to the professional sphere, too. Blair “had a really strong vision of increasing access to leadership both for herself and for others,” E.J. said.
“We would talk about life plans, what kind of Fortune 500 company we were going to found together, how we were going to take over the world together, what good we wanted to see and impact we wanted to leave on the earth together,” he said. “She was gonna do it.”
E.J. said he is confident his sister would have achieved this goal because she had a long history of accomplishing exactly what she set out to do. In high school, she lettered in four varsity sports, served as a “really active student leader” in her community, and graduated salutatorian of her high school class, he said.
She “showed that all things can be done at the same time,” he said.
In college, too, Courtney continued doing “all things.” An Economics concentrator, she worked at the Harvard Shop, participated in the boxing club, tutored students in economics and statistics, and was as a member of the Spee Club. Last summer, she earned an internship with Boston Consulting Group—a position rarely given to rising juniors—and returned to that job this summer.
Despite Courtney’s accomplishments on campus, though, some of her most impressive achievements are not items you’d see on her resume, friends and family said.
Courtney’s compassion for others and her “loyal and caring” attitude made her the type of person who wanted to support and encourage her friends “no matter what the occasion,” Nicole Nishizawa ’19 said.
“Regardless of the time of day, her own workload, or even her own plans, she would drop everything to be there, and it wasn’t the sort of ‘be there’ that feels slightly like a friend obligation, but rather a genuine desire on her part to spend time with you,” she said.
It swiftly became clear Courtney was a caring and devoted friend even in short conversations and encounters, Corrigan said.
“Running into Courtney unexpectedly wasn't like running into other people,” Corrigan said. “She had a way of seeming so genuinely happy to see you that it would really change your day.”
Nishizawa, too, said one of Courtney’s most remarkable qualities was her ability to make “in-between moments” special.
“It could be a party or a Zipcar ride to Burger King or just walking down to brain break,” Nishizawa said. “To her, nothing was more precious and valued than time spent with the people she loved, and I think those little in-between moments are the ones that we’ll miss the most.”
Blair’s family is planning a service to celebrate her life in Georgia this weekend.
—Staff writer Caroline S. Engelmayer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @cengelmayer13.
—Staff writer Michael E. Xie can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelEXie1.
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