The Honorable Myrna L. Bair passed away peacefully on January 29th, 2024 at the age of 83. Born in Huntington, West Virginia, Myrna held a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the University of Wisconsin and taught chemistry at Beaver College and at the University of Delaware.
As a Delaware State Senator (1980-2000), Myrna served as Minority Leader for fourteen years and as Minority Whip for two years, making her the only woman in legislative leadership at that time. Her major legislative initiatives focused on child welfare and on gender equity. Notable achievements include her role in establishing the Office of the Child Advocate; the Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families; and the Women’s Leadership Center.
As a member of the National Conference of State Legislators, she served on the Executive Committee, chaired the Economic and Cultural Development Committee in the Assembly on State Issues, and was elected president of the Women’s Network. Prominent among her numerous awards are the Order of the First State, conferred by Governor Thomas Carper; and the Distinguished Legislative Service Award from the Delaware State Bar Association. She was also inducted into the Hall of Fame of Delaware Women in 2011.
In the 1990s, Myrna took the lead in establishing the only chapter of the International Women’s Forum (IWF) in Delaware. In 2000, she received IWF’s prestigious “Women Who Make a Difference” Award. She also served on the board of the Lincoln Club of Delaware from 2009 to 2023 and as president in 2013-14. Among her many other memberships and contributions were her service as a trustee of Wesley College, president of Delawareans for Energy Conservation, and state energy chairperson for the League of Women Voters. After leaving the State Senate, Myrna accepted the position of Public Advisor and Assistant Professor in the Institute for Public Administration at the University of Delaware, where she directed the Women’s Leadership Development Program.
Myrna was predeceased by her husband of 48 years, Thomas I. Bair II, who passed away in 2014. She is survived by her son, Thomas I. Bair III, her daughter-in-law Lori M. Bair; her beloved grandchildren, Olivia M. Bair and Thomas I. Bair IV; and her daughter, Catherine L. Bair. Her survivors also include numerous friends and former colleagues, including her Women on Wheels travel group. We warmly remember her dry humor, adventuresome spirit, fierce loyalty, and generous support of others’ careers and interests. She will be sincerely missed.
A viewing will be held on Tuesday, February 6, 2024 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the McCrery & Harra Funeral Home, 3924 Concord Pike, (Rt. 202 South of Silverside Road) Wilmington, DE 19803. Additional parking is available at the Brandywine YMCA rear parking area, 3 Mt. Lebanon Road, with a walkway to the funeral home. A funeral service will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 7th at 11:00 a.m. at Aldersgate U.M. Church 2313 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803.Burial will follow in Gracelawn Memorial Park, 2220 N. DuPont Parkway, New Castle, DE 19720. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Sunday Breakfast Mission, 110 N. Poplar St., Wilmington, DE 19801; https://sundaybreakfastmission.org/. To send condolences visit: www.mccreryandharra.com. 302-478-2204.