By Rick Geffken |
SHREWSBURY – George A. Blair was by far one of the most colorful characters who ever lived in Shrewsbury. “God gave me the gravitational pull toward yellow,” said the man known as “Banana George.”
From the signature bright yellow wetsuit he wore skiing barefoot on the Navesink, to his sunglasses and basket-weave summer shoes, his outfits were as bright as his aura. His shirts, ties, suits, even his billfolds, were yellow. But Blair was far from mellow. More than just a renowned showman, he had an unusual array of successful careers during his jam-packed 98 years before his death in 2013 in New York City.
According to his obituary, his great business success was Hospital Portrait Service, based in Red Bank, which offered the first photo of newborn babies in hospitals throughout the United States and in several foreign countries. Other ventures included Red Bank real estate investment, a pest control company, a ski school and The Boat, Ski, and Scooter Center.
Blair lived on Buttonwood Lane in Shrewsbury while he was married to Dorothy Blair Manson, who was the first woman mayor of that borough. In 1973, he married his second wife, JoAnne White. In 1974, he became a founder of Shrewsbury State Bank, which was acquired by Valley National Bank. He was a former commodore of the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club. He was an avid ice boater, piloting the “Yellow Fever” on the Navesink.
He is in the Guinness Book of World Records multiple times under barefoot waterskiing; was named a Water Ski Magazine Icon; joined the International Water Ski Federation’s Order of Merit; was inducted into both the Florida Sports Hall of Fame and the American Water Ski Hall of Fame; and was named Man of the Year and Ambassador of the American Barefoot Club. His image was on magazine covers and greeting cards, a Cheerios campaign and in the July/August 2002 issue of Sports Illustrated. At the young age of 87, the magazine named “Banana George” Blair one of “The Sexiest Men in Sports.”
The new book, “Banana George” was written by his four daughters Donna, Georgia, Carrie and Robin with the assistance of Karen Putz. It is available for sale on Amazon.com.
This article was first published in the Feb. 8-15, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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