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Neighbors decorate home of Central Texas family mourning death of beloved patriarch

LORENA, Texas (KWTX) – Neighbors rallied around a Central Texas family who lost a loved one they describe as “larger than life” last month by surprising the grieving family with a yard decorated with Christmas lights.

Dr. Bill Blair, a longtime orthopedic surgeon from Lorena, died from complications related to COVID-19 on October 18. 

Blair’s wife, Beth; daughter, Maggie, 31; and son, Matthew, 20; all battled the virus at home together during the month of October until Bill entered the hospital days before his death.

While the rest of the family recovered, Bill’s passing left a hole in their hearts that almost feels unbearable during the holidays.

The last thing the family felt they could do was continue their tradition of decorating their home and yard with Christmas lights.

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“We were not going to do anything holiday related this year because we’re trying to navigate so much,” Maggie said.

The Blair family, with the exception of daughter, Murphy, 29, a police officer in College Station, still live together at their Lorena property.   Matthew and Maggie run a popular local business together called Margrit Co., in which they make items like handmade greeting cards and earrings.

On Thanksgiving, the Blairs left their home to enjoy dinner with friends nearby. When they returned, they were met with a surprise they’ll never forget.

While sitting around his Thanksgiving table, neighbor Bob Lemley came up with a plan to brighten their holidays.

Bob uniquely decorated his three acres every year with balls he created out of wire – wrapped in 200 Christmas lights.

The Blair family loved to enjoy them, he said.

“Well, Maggie’s dad had died and Matthew, who has Down syndrome, just goes crazy over the way we hang out lights in the trees every year,” Bob said.

“At the table, I mentioned I’d like to put up some lights over there so we took over an army and we put them up.”

With the help of friends and family, Bob hung nearly two dozen lit balls in the Blair’s yard.

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Maggie says when her family drove up, it took their breath away.

“When we came home after Thanksgiving with some other friends, we came home to just this beautiful sight of lights ,” Maggie said, crying.

“They were everywhere in the trees.  They’re all different colors of green, red blue and multicolor.  It’s just a magical scene.”

Bob says the labor of love reminded him that giving is always better than receiving.

“It is a blessing, absolutely, but to me it’s about giving not about seeing how much they like we gave. I knew that they would like it,” he said.

“If you’re not giving, you’re not living.”

Maggie said the Christmas lights will serve as light during her family’s darkest days and serve as a reminder that there’s always hope.

“When we’re sad we can look outside, and just driving down the road and seeing that light, it just brings that joy back and makes us remember what we had and all the good times and that we have so much life to live and I know my dad would want us to keep celebrating Christmas,” she said.

“It just kind of felt like our dad was taking care of us through our friends and our family and our community and it was just a beautiful light to come home to. You know, I won’t’ forget that, for sure.”

Written by Julie Hays

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