James M. Blair Memorial Scholarship


The purpose of the James M. Blair Memorial Scholarship is to provide an annual award to one or more scholarship applicants. The annual award will be given for the sole purpose of paying college expenses. The current value of the scholarship is $5,000.

Award Criteria

To be eligible to receive the James M. Blair Memorial Scholarship, an applicant must:

  • Demonstrate financial need.
  • Have participated in religious, community, or civic activities, or in youth and/or school programs.
  • Exhibit strong moral character.
  • Be a current resident of the City of Suffolk, and be a graduating senior at one of the public or private high schools located in Suffolk.

    About James

    James was born on September 14, 1944 to Thomas Francis Blair, Jr. and Ossie Pearl Southern Blair. He was the 10th child of 13 children. His great grandfather William Robert Blair (born about 1828 in Ireland and immigrated to the United States sometime before 1854) built railroads from northern Michigan, through what was, at that time, still called Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). His great grandfather started out as a laborer building railroads but formed his own railroad construction company during the railroad boom. They continued south to Texas where James’s father was born in Amarillo. His great grandfather died in approximately 1902 and was buried in Indian Territory.
    After his great grandfather’s death, James’s grandfather and grandmother, Elizabeth Moore (born in Ireland about 1837) completed, according to some Blair family members, pursuant to a construction contract, a railroad associated with the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. They then headed eastward until his grandfather decided they had moved enough and built enough railroads. They built their last tracks in eastern North Carolina. They put down roots and, given the advent of the automobile, started building roads in Granville County, NC. James’s grandfather needed James’s father to help run a construction crew – thus his entry into the road construction business.
    Ossie Pearl Southern was born on November 9, 1906 in Lynchburg, VA to Cornelius Osborne Southern and Mary Mitchell Southern. Mary died very early in Ossie’s life, perhaps in 1908. Cornelius then married Mary Etta Nelson. Ossie was destined to be an only child.
    James’s father and mother met when his grandfather was building a road in North Carolina and his grandmother was in charge of the cooks and James’s grandfather was in charge of the horses and mules for James’s grandfather’s construction company. Because religion was of great importance in their lives, with James’s father being Catholic and his mother being Baptist, concessions had to be made before their eventual marriage. They were wed in Henderson, NC on April 18, 1922. The young couple started their family on September 12, 1923. Over the following years, their family grew to number 13 children with the last one being born on December 14, 1950.
    James’s father and mother moved to Suffolk, VA in 1932.

    James graduated from Suffolk High School, and then joined the U.S. Army. After serving his country, James attended and graduated from Old Dominion University. James became involved in the road construction business serving as treasurer and accountant of Blair Brothers, Inc. until his retirement.

    James was active in Main Street Methodist Church, was on the Board of Meals on Wheels and Riddick’s Folly, and was active in other charitable endeavors.

    Application, Deadline, and Submission Instructions

    The James M. Blair Memorial Scholarship utilizes the Suffolk Foundation’s common scholarship application form, which opens online on February 3, 2025. The application must be submitted online before the deadline of 5:00 pm, March 21, 2025. For more information, contact the Foundation staff at office@suffolkfoundation.org or by calling 757-923-9090.


    2022 Awardee

    Chaitanya Barot, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy

    Alexis Olsen

    Nansemond River High School

    2021 Awardee

    Chaitanya Barot, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy

    Chaitanya Barot

    Nansemond-Suffolk Academy

    2020 Awardee

    Moneka Skeeter

    Nansemond River High School