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Dr. Blair Erb was an early advocate and pioneer for the Wilderness Medical Society. He served as the fourth President (1989-1992) of the WMS and helped establish the society’s first World Congress in Whistler, BC in 1991.

Dr. Erb was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, and completed his undergraduate and medical degrees at The University of Tennessee Knoxville. Following a general internship, Dr. Erb served as a flight surgeon for the US Air Force at Ent Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, where he also grew to further appreciate skiing and mountain life. He would later return to Tennessee to complete a residency in internal medicine and fellowship in cardiology where he would practice for another 33 years.

Dr. Erb was an active and valued member of other organizations such as the American College of Physicians, the American Heart Association, and the Explorer’s Club. He was a national expert on exercise physiology and cardiac rehabilitation which, combined with his love of the outdoors, served as a valuable asset for the growing research interests of the early WMS. He was a major contributor to the Expedition & Wilderness Medicine textbook.

Dr. Erb was a much-lauded member of the society, having received the Founder’s Award (2003), and Dian Simpkins Service Award (1995). In honor of its founder, the Blair Erb World Congress International Award was established in 1995.

Dr. Erb passed away on September 25, 2021, and is survived by his three children, eight grandchildren, and many close friends and colleagues.

“Blair Erb was a total gentleman in the true sense of the word. He brought to the WMS something we never had, class. Our group of mountain men, desert rats, and frogmen needed someone like him and like a gift from above, he came along and made us into a world class organization. … He had a great sense of humor, Dr.y and understated, but hilarious. He and Bruce Paton brought a feeling of historical connection whenever we would sit down and talk about where we were going and where we had been as a society.”
-Dr. Edward Otten, MD, past WMS President

“Gracious and humble, Blair was the consummate southern gentleman and physician. I will never forget his assistance in obtaining independent accreditation to sponsor our own events. My eyes rolled at the paperwork involved, but Blair jumped right in to assist, saying, ‘I know the hell out of these organizations. Let me help.’ Indeed he did, and we got our accreditation.”
-Dr. Edward Geehr, MD, past WMS President

“Beyond trying to establish upgraded WMS traditions, what I remember most about Blair was that he was a true Gentleman Physician. Well mannered, medically astute, calm even in adversarial situations, and - along with Bruce Paton - my WMS mentors. I will truly miss him. I miss them both.”
-Dr. William Forgey, MD, past WMS President

“If I had to choose one word to describe what Blair meant to me it would be grace. It surrounded him, oozed out of him, and dusted all of us when we were in his presence. He and Paul and Bruce and Warren are no doubt sitting in a snow cave up in the ether sharing a glass of scotch and hopefully guiding us along our paths.”
-Dr. Luanne Freer, MD, past WMS President

Dr. Erb’s family, friends, and colleagues have set up a memorial fund to celebrate his legacy. Donations will go to the Paul Auerbach Lectureship Fund, an annual lecture series of expert speakers on topics that are thought-provoking, innovative, and nurture the breadth of the WMS - an initiative Dr. Erb felt passionately about.

If you have photos or memories of Dr. Erb that you would like to share with the WMS or his family, please email them to [email protected].