William Newton Blair (1876–1970), was born in Salina, Kansas in July, 1876, the third son of Edgar Wilson and Emma Ann Blair. He was educated at Kansas Wesleyan College, where he obtained both a Doctorate of Divinity and a L.L.D. degree. He also went to McCormick Seminary in Chicago, graduating in 1901. He married Edith Perl Allen on 2 June 1901 at Dickinson County, Kansas with the ceremony performed by her father, Rev. E. W. Allen.
In August 1901, William and Edith Blair became missionaries to Korea under the Presbyterian Board of Missions and served in Pyongyang, Korea (now in North Korea) for 40 years. During his first term of missionary service, William Blair was at the centre of the great revival of 1907, and his account of this and the events leading up to it forms the first part of the book, The Korean Pentecost and the Sufferings which Followed, published by the Trust in 1977, and reprinted in 2015. In this, Blair includes a thrilling description of how the gospel first came to Korea.
William and Edith had two daughters – Lois and Katharine. In 1932, Katharine married Bruce Hunt (both of them born in Korea) and served with him as a missionary in that country.
The Blairs came back to the United States permanently in 1940 and settled in Topeka, Kansas. After his retirement in 1947 from missionary work, William Blair served as a minister in several Presbyterian churches in the U.S.