Skip to main content

In Memoriam | Summer/Fall 2022

In Memoriam: William “Bill” Fownes Blue

Former Alumni Association board chair founded Jeff Scholars

According to friends, colleagues and relatives, William “Bill” Fownes Blue (Com ’56, Law ’60 CM) wasn’t one to boast about himself. But between his 60-year law career, his golf talent, and his role in creating UVA’s Jefferson Scholars Program, he certainly earned a few bragging rights. 

William “Bill” Fownes Blue

“He was incredibly modest about all his accomplishments,” said Jimmy Wright, president of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation. “There couldn’t be a more loyal or dedicated alumnus than Bill Blue.” 

Blue recruited Wright from the Morehead scholarship program at the University of North Carolina to run Jefferson Scholars. “I most likely would not have even thought about doing that, except for the fact that I admired and liked Bill Blue,” said Wright, who has remained president for nearly 40 years. “Were it not for Bill Blue there would be no Jefferson Scholars Foundation.”

Jefferson Scholarships cover four years of fully funded tuition, books and housing and include an enrichment program featuring foreign travel, career networking and counseling. The foundation has granted more than 1,000 scholarships.

As an undergraduate in the commerce school, Blue was captain of the golf team and a member of St. Elmo, Corks & Curls, Eli Banana and Army ROTC. Next came law school, where he stayed active on Grounds. Blue’s daughter, Katherine “Mimi” Blue (Col ’89 CM), said she and her three brothers grew up visiting Charlottesville with their dad for UVA football games, and all four went on to attend the University.

The Blue siblings also grew up playing golf with their dad, who, at age 18, became the youngest person in Baltimore to win two golf club championships, according to his obituary in The Baltimore Sun. That year he also played in a tournament against Arnold Palmer. He spent 21 years on the United States Golf Association Junior Committee, which included refereeing a match with Tiger Woods.

Blue began his legal career in the trust department of Mercantile-Safe Deposit and Trust Co. He worked at several Baltimore area firms, including Blue & Blue, a practice he ran with his son Robert Blue (Col ’85, Law ’89 CM). In 2004 it merged with Royston, Mueller, McLean & Reid, where William Blue was a partner and of counsel until retiring in 2020. 

One of Blue’s proudest achievements was serving as president of the UVA Alumni Association Board of Managers in 1984. Yet while he loved all things UVA, his greatest passion was his family. “He was very involved, and he was very busy. But he loved his family most of all,” said Mimi Blue. “That’s the most amazing thing. He always found time for us.”

In addition to his children Mimi and Robert, survivors include Blue’s wife of 65 years, Kate; sons William Blue Jr. (Col ’81, Darden ’86 CM) and J. Tyler Blue (Col ’83 CM); nine grandchildren, including Nancy Weadon (Col ’10 CM) and J. “Ty” Blue Jr. (Col ’14 CM); and three great-grandchildren.

—Sam Grossman