Blairs thankful this holiday

Published 2:51 am Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rufus and Erma Blair sat holding hands on the same sofa, counting their blessings this Thanksgiving — life, prayers, family and friends.

Rufus Blair was the focus of nearly 100 search volunteers in mid-September after he was reported missing by family members. A two-day search ended in his rescue and a joyful reunion with his family.

“I’m just to thankful to be able to be with him and not going to the cemetery to visit him,” Erma said. “I’m thankful to have him here at home with us.”

Rufus said the experience was “terrible” and one he won’t soon forget.

“If people hadn’t been out there to help me, I wouldn’t have made it through,” Rufus said. “I’m just so thankful.”

Erma said the family and friends who prayed and helped in the search were working under divine direction.

“I can see the hand of God in everything about his rescue,” Erma said. “I know that God will get the glory for everything.”

Rufus spent six days in the hospital following his rescue and is doing well since his release.

“I did get some scratches from falling down an embankment,” Rufus said. “But, I’m better now.”

Rufus said after his fall, he knew the best thing to do would be to “stay put” and wait to be found.

Darlene Regehr, the Blairs’ daughter, said staying put proved to be the best idea since searchers followed clues that lead to the lost man.

“We thought the worst when they found Dad’s flip-flop in the creek,” Darlene said. “But, that led them to look in the area where he had decided to stay. It was just a miracle.”

Erma’s faith kept her going during the ordeal and, she said, helped her to comfort her children as well.

“I told all the children that no matter how this turned out I still have faith,” Erma said. “I believe God has a purpose for everything and it’s going to be all right.”

Darlene said the experience has given the couple, as well as the rest of the family, a new appreciation for some things that may have gone unnoticed before.

“When something happens like this you seem to notice the little things more,” Darlene said. “I can look out and see Mom and Dad walking across the yard and they are holding hands. When you have an upset in your life, it wakes you up and you begin to notice the beauty of life a little more.”

The beauty of life won’t be wasted in Appleton this week as the family gathers to celebrate the holiday.

“We hope to get everyone together as a family for Thanksgiving,” Erma said. “Most of the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be here. We’ll have a few that won’t be able to be here, but we will certainly be giving thanks this week.”