July 13, 2008 — St. John resident Miles Stair had a ball as grand marshal of St. John's July 4th Celebration parade.
"I didn't know I knew so many people," he said of the parade-goers who greeted him as he wended his way along the parade route in a convertible.
The St. John Festival and Cultural Organization picked Stair to head the parade because he has long contributed financially to the island's annual celebration.
Since he attended more July 4th Celebration events than in other years, he said he really developed an appreciation for the amount of work that goes into making the annual celebration happen.
Stair, 59, owns Holiday Homes, a St. John real estate company. He started working at the long-established company when he moved to St. John for the second time in 1985 and bought the company in 1992.
The route to this point in his life began in Virginia, where he was born and educated. He holds a bachelor's degree in English from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia.
He soon went to work for the National Park Service as an officer at Washington, D.C. parks.
In 1972, a visit with friend who had moved to St. John convinced him to head south, and he added front-desk clerk at what was then called Caneel Bay Plantation, now Resort, to his resume.
"And I met this cute little switchboard operator," he said, speaking of his wife of 32 years, Susan Stair.
Stair went on to manage Cinnamon Bay Campground and then the food and beverage operation at Caneel Bay.
He and his wife were married in 1976 and went on to work at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Williamsburg, Virginia hotels.
"We had our house here and came back every vacation," Stair recalled.
The two decided to return full time to St. John.
While the job at Holiday Homes was a departure from Stair's hotel career, it was a natural because his father owned a real estate company in Virginia. "The wonderful part is sharing St. John and helping people make the transition to the island," he said.
While the island's real estate business is in a slump, Stair sees it a cyclical. He said that a boom in the 1980s was followed by Hurricane Hugo, which slowed business considerably.
"The year 1992 was a low year," he said.
Stair also sees that his role in the real estate industry helps him be a positive influence in the changes that continue to occur on St. John.
While the real estate business keeps him busy, Stair spends time serving on the nonprofit Friends of V.I. National Park board.
"Congress is never going to fund the park adequately, so they'll always need help from the private sector," Stair said.
Education is also another interest, and he serves on the Gifft Hill School Foundation. He's also a member of the Rotary Club of St. John.
Stair and his wife like to travel. He's also a marathoner, with 11 years of the island's 8 Tuff Miles race under his running shoes. And he's competed in the Boston and New York marathons.
"I hope to do London for my next big birthday," he said, speaking of his upcoming 60th.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.