Jeanne F. Blair, saleswoman and opera singer, dies

Jeanne F. Blair sang with the Baltimore Civic Opera, Second Presbyterian Church choir and also performed in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas produced by the Comic Opera Company.
Jeanne F. Blair sang with the Baltimore Civic Opera, Second Presbyterian Church choir and also performed in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas produced by the Comic Opera Company.(Handout)

Jeanne F. Blair, a former saleswoman and opera buff who performed with the old Baltimore Civic Opera Company, died Dec. 6 from lung failure at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson.

The longtime Towson resident was 89.


The daughter of Charles Edward Frank, a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service inspector, and Louise Amanda Brodie, a homemaker, the former Jeanne Frank was born in Baltimore and raised on Maryland Avenue in what is now Charles Village.

She was a granddaughter of Walter Scott “Steve” Brodie, a legendary Orioles center fielder who played for the team from 1893 to 1896, then again from 1898 to 1901. Mrs. Blair had memorabilia related to her grandfather — who had set a 19th-century record playing 727 consecutive games as the team won three consecutive National League championships. A 2015 Baltimore Sun article described him as the “Ironman of his day” and a “stellar if loopy center fielder.”

A graduate of Eastern High School, Mrs. Blair worked as a saleswoman at Hutzler’s downtown, then later in sales for a Roland Park apartment and office building.

From 1970 to 1982, she worked in sales for the Hammann Music Co. in the old Towson Plaza, and from 1982 until 1983, at its downtown store.

“She loved her job at Hammann’s and would order all of the music that music teachers needed every year,” said a daughter, Cynthia Mangione “Cindy” Teramani, of Rodgers Forge. “She just loved being around anyone or anything that had to do with music.”

She married John P. “Jack” Blair, who was an organ salesman for Hammann and a singer. They were married 38 years. He died in 2005.

Mrs. Blair also worked for 13 years at MCI Communications Corp., first as a customer service representative and later in the correspondence department. She retired in 1995.

As a young woman, she had begun singing in the chorus of the Baltimore Civic Opera, which later became the Baltimore Opera Co. During that era, Metropolitan Opera diva and Baltimore resident Rosa Ponselle was artistic director and Eugene “Leigh” Martinet was conductor.


Mrs. Blair sang with the Second Presbyterian Church choir during the 1950s and 1960s, and also performed in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas that were produced by the Comic Opera Company.

She lived in Rodgers Forge and Lake Evesham before moving to Towson.

An avid Orioles, Baltimore Colts and Ravens fan, she never missed a game on radio, and visited the Baseball hall of Fame in Copperstown, N.Y., and the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

“She was an outgoing person who felt it was her duty to be kind to everyone and compliment them on something,” her daughter said. “She wanted to try and make everyone feel better about themselves and their day.”

A memorial service will be held 1 p.m. Dec. 27 at the Mitchell-Wiedfeld Funeral Home, York and Overbrook roads, Rodgers Forge.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Blair is survived by another daughter, Suzanne Mangione Wight of Boulder, Colo.; a sister, Mildred Frank Ricketts of Pawleys Island, S.C.; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. An earlier marriage to Paul John Mangione ended in divorce.