July 20, 1934 - Sept. 14, 2017
Donald Devorris, 83, Altoona, passed away peacefully on Thursday evening at his residence, surrounded by his beloved family, after a seven-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
Surviving are his adoring wife of 56 years, Nancy (Scott) Devorris; two children: Andrea (Michael) and Philip (Colleen); five grandchildren: Allison, Scott, Max, Claudia and Felicia; a stepsister, Roz (Steve) Aaronson; and a legion of dear, cherished friends and partners who were like an extended family to him.
He was preceded in death by his beloved parents, Mike and Rose Devorris; his stepmother, Bea Devorris; and his mother, Rebecca Chanin.
Don served briefly in the U.S. Army after completing an electrical engineering degree from Penn State University, a school with which he had a lifelong relationship. For three years, he worked in New York before returning to Altoona in 1959 to found Blair Companies. A few years later, he married the love of his life, Nancy Scott of South Orange, N.J., and moved her to Altoona.
As a young entrepreneur, he opened a small service company, Blair Electric, and it quickly grew to include 200 employees. Blair Companies soon expanded into real estate development, manufacturing and construction, with offices across the United States and Asia. Don believed that a person could achieve anything with the right partners running the business and the right employees caring for it. This formula led him to become an active investor in hundreds of businesses throughout central Pa. and beyond with more than 200 partners and thousands of employees, including Blair Sign, Blair Fixtures, Blair Lighting, Blair Construction, Blair Realty, American Eagle Paper Mills, TEAM Motors, Chemcut and Empower3. Real estate projects include several Martin’s grocery plazas, Sheetz plazas, Station Medical Center, Elmwood, Beverly Hills, Lakemont Park, Galactic Ice, Blairmont/Sylvan View Golf Course and Summit Park.
Don worked as tirelessly on community activities as he did on his own businesses, and he was still starting businesses and working in the community he proudly called “Utopia” at 83 years of age. He followed his father’s footsteps in community development and started, recruited, saved or grew more than one hundred area businesses. He was passionate about connecting friends and partners, leading the Chamber’s Executive Roundtable for decades to support area businesses and secure jobs. He spent years working to improve the Altoona-area hospital system, Penn State Altoona and downtown Altoona, working with ABCD Corp. to support the business community and secure local jobs. He was a great deal maker, always working toward win-win solutions. He never cared about recognition or personal gain as long as progress was made.
Don is remembered for his warm smile and a lightness of heart that made every moment with him a joy. He had a rare passion for everything that he did and a zest for life that was contagious. He celebrated the smallest of victories with everyone around him, while treating short-comings and setbacks like minor details. Don will be remembered for his love of family, his lightness of heart, his generosity and his unwavering devotion to his community.
He loved his dogs, his pig, ice cream, Penn State football and PSU Altoona, business of any sort, friends, travel, food, golf, aerobics, his community and most of all, family.
A service in Don’s memory will be held at 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, at Agudath Achim Synagogue, 1306 17th St., Altoona. Interment will be at Agudath Achim Cemetery. Friends also will be received from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, at the synagogue, after a short Shiva service. Arrangements are by E. Merrill Smith Funeral Home Inc., 2309 Broad Ave., Altoona.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations of remembrance be made to Devorris Downtown Enhancement Fund, care of Central PA Community Foundation, 1330 11th Ave., Altoona, PA 16601.