From shoe cobbler's son to Murray's newest mayor, meet Blair Camp
Feb 01, 2018 11:08AM
● By Shaun Delliskave
As fire chief, Blair Camp was able to visit ground zero in New York City. (Photo/Blair Camp)
Murray's new mayor [3 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
The son of a shoe repairman, Murray’s new mayor, Blair Camp was taught how to work hard at an early age.
“My dad taught me the value of work. Whenever I wanted something, like paying the fees to play little league baseball, he had me come into his shoe shop and earn the money for it.”
Working together at the shoe repair store, which stood on the corner of Murray-Taylorsville and Redwood Roads, created a close father-son relationship. From his father, Blair learned the lessons of life and other useful skills, like how to put new soles on a pair of boots.
Raised just west of the Murray boundary in Taylorsville, Blair was one of nine children. He was in the inaugural sophomore class of Cottonwood High School when it opened in 1971.
On growing up with Blair, his younger sister Marilee recalls her brother’s determined resourcefulness. “As a teenager, he spent summers as a lifeguard at our aunt’s pool in Idaho. One summer he and his three friends rode their bikes all the way there. It was about 100 miles (from Taylorsville). They camped overnight at the park in Brigham City.”
During his last year at Cottonwood, Blair acquired one of his favorite personal features: a mustache. According to him, the mustache has been a part of his life more years than not. As he entered the workforce, the future LDS bishop was sporting not only a mustache but lamb chop sideburns and long, flowing hair down to his shoulders. Now, tightly trimmed with no evidence of his mustache, his wife, Paula, corroborates his story.
“At first I was kind of scared of him,” said Paula of her first encounter with her 1970s hipster husband when she was hired to work at Piccadilly Fish and Chips in Sugar House. However, as Paula the waitress got to know Blair the cook, she took a shine to him.
“I asked him out first!” she declared. After that first date watching “The Sting” at the old Century 21 dome theaters, it wasn’t long before the two teenagers wed. They have one son and four daughters and now seven grandsons and seven granddaughters, with two new granddaughters on the way.
It was Paula who helped Blair embark on the career that would last until his retirement. One day, Paula attended a safety presentation by the Murray Fire Department at the local church; one firefighter mentioned that they were looking to hire more firefighters. Paula told Blair—who had previously considered firefighting as a career—and he jumped at the opportunity.
Finding a mentor in Dale Davies at the Murray FD, Blair was able to move through the ranks, finally advancing to chief. His experience as chief gave him wide exposure to the inner workings of Murray City. But Provo lured him away from Murray to be their chief, where he had to fight some high-profile fires, including the blaze that destroyed the historic Provo Tabernacle. As fire quickly consumed the Tabernacle’s interior, Blair ordered his crew to save the exterior walls from collapsing.
Some incidents still haunt him from his time as a firefighter. He emotionally recalls responding to an accident caused by a drunk driver which killed a pregnant mother; her husband wandered around the scene in shock, unaware his leg was broken. He gained a new respect for how precious life is and gained perspective on how to live.
Given his experience working with cities, Blair thought that he might try a run for city council after retirement. Since his election to the council in 2014, he has never missed a city council meeting.