Sunday, June 29, 2014
By James Lomuscio
William F. “Bill” Meyer III, the avuncular, ever present cheerleader during announcements at the Representative Town Meeting (RTM), the indefatigable Westport volunteer celebrated town wide last year for his myriad community service roles, a tour de force among seniors and a statewide proponent of the right to die, died tonight after a two year battle with multiple myeloma. He was 85.
Meyer, who in 1994 faced criminal charges, later dismissed, after detailing in a Connecticut Magazine article how he had helped his cancer-stricken father end his own life three years earlier, died at his Westport home, according to First Selectman Jim Marpe.
The 42-year town resident and 18-year RTM member was a descendant of Thomas Hooker, a Congregationalist minister who arrived in Boston in 1633. In keeping with his lineage, he had served as a deacon in the Saugatuck Congregational Church.
He was also a Westport Little League organizer and umpire, so ebullient he was dubbed Umpire Bill. In addition, Meyer was a Native American champion whom the Blackfeet Indians named an honorary chief, a longtime mentor to Westport and inner city students and a member of the Y’s Men group, where he proudly boasted about the number of new members he brought in.
The self-effacing past president of the Westport Sunrise Rotary, Meyer never shied away from donning a duck costume during RTM meetings to promote the organization’s annual Great Duck Race fundraiser.
And In the midst of town budgetary quandaries during the recession, he was always quick to remind representatives all that was good about Westport, from Staples High School students’ achievements to the annual Candlelight Concert to the latest production of the Westport Community Theatre, where he volunteered as an usher.
“The passing of Bill Meyer has left a hole in our community that will never be filled,” said Marpe. “His enthusiasm for his town of Westport and for every Westport organization to which he belonged was unmatched and infectious.
“He never tired of selling Westport and all the things that make it a special place,” he added. “But he always said that selling a great product is easy. For us, Bill was the one who made Westport special. “
Marpe cited Meyer’s many years on the board of First Night, crediting his energy and enthusiasm as “a key factor in sustaining this great family event.”
Marpe also mentioned Meyer’s role as organizer of the annual Super Bowl Party at the Westport Center for senior Activities, saying that “Bill arranged for cheerleaders and members of the Staples High School football team to attend and provide spirit to the festivities.”
“It didn’t matter which teams were playing in the Super Bowl – it was enjoying the day and the event that mattered,” said Marpe.
He also noted Meyer’s work with the girls’ softball program.
“He paved the way for gender equality in our town’s sports programs long before it became the accepted norm,” said Marpe, adding that the town’s softball diamond on North Compo is named Bill Meyer Field.
“He will be sorely missed,” he added. “Our deepest sympathy goes out to his wife, Carolyn and to Bill’s children.”
Former First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, who served with Meyer for many years on the RTM, said the town had lost “one of its beloved treasures.”
“Bill brought an infectious spirit and unabashed pride about our community to everyone he met,” he said. “His ability to inspire and his unbridled, fist-pumping enthusiasm about all that he did will be sorely missed.”
Eileen Lavigne Flug, moderator of the RTM, said in a Facebook posting: “Bill Meyer taught us all how to give, and how to live. He had a way of making everyone feel special. In an age of technology, he understood the power of a written letter appearing in a mailbox.”
She added, “But his most recurring refrain at Representative Town Meetings was probably ‘Let’s do it for the kids!’... Bill, a big fist pump for you. We were all so fortunate to know you and love you.”
Posted 06/29/14 at 02:12 AM
Here are 3.5 minutes from an interview I did with Bill Meyer back in December 2012. It’s a great way to understand what makes Bill Meyer tick: http://youtu.be/8L5oVm0nIok
Mark, thanks for posting that. If anyone didn’t know Bill, they totally get who he is even in those 3 minutes.
I’m gonna miss this guy.