Tag Archives: Bill Meyer

Bill Meyer Brings Westport Together — Again

Keith Stein sent an email the other day. He wanted me to promote a special event.

Because it honors Bill Meyer, I said “sure!”

Bill Meyer

Bill Meyer

The event is a reception and staged reading of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.” It’s a fundraiser for the Westport Community Theatre’s Bill Meyer Scholarship.

Bill — who died last June, at 85 — was an avid WCT supporter, and served as a director.

But he did much, much more. He:

  • was elected 9 times to the RTM
  • founded the Westport Little League softball program
  • served as Y’s Men president and membership chairman
  • was a director of Sunrise Rotary, Senior  Center, First Night, Westport’s AARP chapter, and 2 intercity Bridgeport agencies
  • served on the Saugatuck Congregational Church council
  • helped with Meals on Wheels
  • was a board member of Isaiah House in Bridgeport, which helps parolees transition from prison to life outside

All those are great reasons to support the Bill Meyer Scholarship. But here’s the really intriguing thing about Keith Stein’s email, asking me to publicize the event:

Bill was also a staunch Republican. Keith is the chair of Westport’s Democratic Town Committee.

The staged reading includes a cast of veteran WCT actors — and a bipartisan cast of local politicians, including Martha Aasen, Toni Boucher, Gail Lavielle, Dewey Loselle, Jim Marpe and Jonathan Steinberg.

Westport Community Theatre

“Bill was an enthusiastic cheerleader for Westport,” Keith says. “I’m involved in the Democratic Town Committee because I want to promote Westport. Sure, he was a Republican. But he transcended politics.”

So did Keith’s email.

Washington: Are you listening?

(The Westport Community Theatre’s fundraiser for the Bill Meyer Scholarship is set for Saturday, October 24 [6-9:30 p.m.] at the Westport Historical Society. It starts with a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception, followed by a staged reading of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.” Tickets are $50 per person. Click here or call 203-226-1983.)

Bill Meyer Memorial Service Set For July 12

A memorial service celebrating the amazing, rich life of Bill Meyer will be held on Saturday, July 12 (3 p.m.), at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. Reverend Alison J. B. Patton, pastor of Saugatuck Congregational Church — still unavailable because of a fire — will preside.

Bill’s family says that in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to:

  • Sunrise Rotary Club of Westport (checks made out to “WSR 21st CF”), PO Box 43, Westport, CT 06880
  • Saugatuck Congregational Church Rebuilding Fund, PO Box 5186, Westport, CT  06881-5186; online donations at: http://www.saugatuckchurch.org/rebuild/how-to-help.html
  • The School Volunteer Association of Bridgeport, 900 Boston Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06610
Bill Meyer

Bill Meyer

 

Westport’s RTM: 65 Years Young!

65 years ago, Westport replaced its “town meeting” form of government with a “Representative Town Meeting” (RTM). 

Ann Sheffer used that anniversary as the theme of her invocation at last night’s session. As Westport prepares to celebrate Independence Day — and America’s special democracy — Ann’s remarks are very instructive.

When Velma Heller asked if I would give the invocation tonight, she suggested I talk a bit about the history of the RTM and its relevance today… because the 500 or so people who have served over the years embody the traditions and values of our town.

Ann Sheffer, at last night's RTM meeting. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

Ann Sheffer, at last night’s RTM meeting. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

I am one of a number of Westport families with multiple family members who served on the RTM. My father was on the RTM from 1953 until 1969, and served as moderator from 1959 to 1969. I was on the RTM from 1993 to 2005, as was my husband Bill Scheffler. That makes us one of 11 sets of married couples who have served on the RTM (though not necessarily at the same time).

But more importantly, I realized that July 16 marks the 65th anniversary of the date in 1949 when the citizens of Westport approved the change from a town meeting to a Representative Town Meeting – which made us one of only 7 towns in Connecticut to have this form of government. We are the only fully non-partisan one.

In 1999, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the RTM, we published a history of this body (it’s available here). Here are a few details that show how the RTM has evolved.

In 1949, there were 124 candidates for 26 seats. But only 4 women were elected that first year. Today, both the moderator and deputy moderator are women, a first for the RTM.

Each member was to represent 250 citizens (today it’s about 700). One commentator observed that it was “as democratic as Congress and twice as personal.”

There were notable votes over the years. My favorite, with my father presiding, was the 1972 resolution asking President Nixon to withdraw from Vietnam. It passed, 17-15. There were also many, many evenings, often until 3 am, spent debating the education budget, sewers, and, of course, dog leash laws.

RTMIn essence, the history of the RTM is the history of the Town. We were reminded of that in recent months, when we lost 2 of the most notable members: Allen Raymond (the 4th Moderator) and Bill Meyer, who gave many an impassioned speech from this lectern.

I was going to add David Royce, but I remembered he was never a member of the RTM — just a wonderful gadfly who was actually arrested during one of his protests.

There are traditions that I hope you will learn about and continue. For example, RTM Rules of Procedure call for the “first right-hand seat of the left-hand section as you face the Moderator” to be left empty as a memorial to Maclear Jacoby, one of the original members, and to all deceased RTM members.

I want to leave you with the words that Gordon Joseloff wrote when he was elected moderator of the RTM in 1995:

“May those who serve in this body, and hold the responsibility for our Town, be

  •  Respectful of our past
  • Confident of our present
  • Bold about our future.”

Ann nailed it. Happy anniversary, RTM — and happy Independence Day, Westport!

 

Jim Marpe Mourns Bill Meyer

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe reacts to the death of Westport resident Bill Meyer:

The passing of Bill Meyer has left a hole in our community that will never be filled.

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.  But he always said that selling a great product is easy. For us, Bill was the one who made Westport special.

In his last public appearance -- this year's Memorial Day parade -- Bill Meyer promoted the Sunrise Rotary's Great Duck Race.

In his last public appearance — this year’s Memorial Day parade — Bill Meyer promoted the Sunrise Rotary’s Great Duck Race.

From Sunrise Rotary to First Night; from Saugatuck Congregational Church to Y’s Men; from mentoring young students to ushering at the Community Theater, and many other organizations as well — Bill left his high energy imprint on everything he was a part of.

When Bill became a member of Sunrise Rotary he became one of its most dynamic members; bringing in far more new members than anyone.  A true Rotarian – how wonderful to see him supporting his beloved Duck Race as he rode in this year’s Memorial Day Parade.

Bill was on the Board of First Night for many years. His energy and enthusiasm for the organization was a key factor in sustaining this great family event.

As the Senior Center Super Bowl Party organizer, 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.

As our most recent longest serving RTM member, Bill brought a new meaning to civic duty. He loved to campaign at the train stations and in front of the area supermarkets on behalf of the candidates he supported — and they came from both sides of the political aisle.

This photo epitomizes Bill Meyer. He's volunteering at the Great Duck Race, sponsored by Sunrise Rotary, while hugging Republican State Senator Toni Boucher.

This photo epitomizes Bill Meyer. He’s volunteering at the Great Duck Race, sponsored by Sunrise Rotary, while hugging Republican State Senator Toni Boucher.

Bill Meyer is probably most famous as the creative force behind our town’s girls’ softball program. He paved the way for gender equality in our town’s sports programs long before it became the accepted norm.

The town’s softball diamond on North Compo is Bill Meyer Field. For the last 25 years he has been umpiring games and is well known to all of the girls and their families who have played softball over that period.

In contrast to his vocal and unabashed enthusiasm for organizations in town, Bill was quiet and unassuming in his outreach to those in need. Bill mentored several young boys in both Bridgeport and Westport. He was a board member of Isaiah House in Bridgeport, which is a half-way house for people leaving prison. Again, these are true examples of his dedication to those in need and his desire to serve his community with his talents and gifts.

The list of contributions Bill Meyer made to the town of Westport is long and inspiring. These contributions were not monetary in nature, but rather contributions of mind, spirit, enthusiasm, and self. He was selfless – always thinking of others and how he could provide an opportunity for others to become involved as he had. His love for Westport shone throughout. His legacy will surely endure but, for now, he has left us with aching hearts and fond memories of raucous enthusiasm enveloped by gentle dedication and kindness.  He will be sorely missed.

Our deepest sympathy goes out to his wife, Carolyn and to Bill’s children.

Remembering Bill Meyer

Bill Meyer — the consummate Westport volunteer, a man who knew everyone in town, and one of the most genuinely friendly human beings on the planet — died today. He battled multiple myeloma for over a year.

In his 85 years, Bill did more than 85 normal people could in 85 lifetimes.

Bill Meyer

Bill Meyer

Professionally, he had a fulfilling career as national sales manager for several companies. “We manufactured and sold pens and pencils,” he said of one business.

That’s like saying Bruce Springsteen “plays music.” In fact, Bill managed 800 workers on a Blackfoot Indian reservation in Montana. He was so motivational and inspirational, the tribe adopted him — and gave him an honorary Indian name.

But as much as he traveled, Bill always found time for Westport.

Plenty of time.

Here is a teeny-tiny, way-too-partial list. Bill…

  • was elected 9 times to the RTM. He chaired the Parks and Recreation Committee, and served on its  Education, and Health and Human Services Committees
  • founded the Westport Little League softball program; was a member of the Little League board of directors; umpired — and had a softball field named for him
  • served as Y’s Men president and membership chairman
  • was a director of Sunrise Rotary, Senior  Center, First Night, Westport’s AARP chapter, Westport Community Theatre, and 2 intercity Bridgeport agencies
  • served on the Saugatuck Congregational Church council
  • mentored a boy from age 5 through adolescence
  • helped with Meals on Wheels
  • volunteered on many Republican campaigns
  • was a board member of Isaiah House in Bridgeport, which helps parolees transition from prison to life outside
  • won the 2004 Service to Older Adults award
  • earned a Westport First award
  • received the YMCA’s Faces of Achievement honor.

Bill loved Staples. He loved Westport, sports, the theater, church, the Republican party, volunteering, old people, young people, and his wife Carolyn.

Or — to put it another way: Bill loved life.

We owe Bill Meyer an enormous debt. He touched each of us, and all of us.

He made Westport a better place to live.

You can’t ask for a better life than that.

This photo epitomizes Bill Meyer. He's volunteering at the Great Duck Race, sponsored by Sunrise Rotary, while hugging Republican State Senator Toni Boucher.

This photo epitomizes Bill Meyer. He was volunteering at the Great Duck Race, sponsored by Sunrise Rotary, while hugging Republican State Senator Toni Boucher.

 

 

Westport Loves A Parade

Crowds seemed a bit thin for today’s Memorial Day parade — but that could have been because nearly everyone in Westport was marching.

Here’s the “06880” view:

Grand marshal Bob Satter has a smile and a story for everyone.

Grand marshal Bob Satter — age 90, and a World War II vet — has a smile and a story for everyone.

Other veterans follow, in very cool cars.

Other veterans follow, in very cool cars.

The Carpenter family welcomes guests to their 1877 home, near the end of the parade on Myrtle Avenue.

The Carpenter family welcomes guests to their 1877 home, near the end of the parade route on Myrtle Avenue.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe, in his 1st parade as town leader. Behind him are State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, 3rd Selectman Helen Garten and 2nd Selectman Avi Kaner.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe, in his 1st parade as town leader. Behind him are State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, 3rd Selectman Helen Garten and 2nd Selectman Avi Kaner.

Yesterday, Bill Meyer was in the hospital. Today -- wearing his Sunrise Rotary gear -- he rides in the parade.

Yesterday, Bill Meyer was in the hospital. Today — wearing his Sunrise Rotary gear — he rides in the parade.

The Sweet Frog mascot is not a veteran.

The Sweet Frog mascot is not a veteran.

Ted Diamond and his wife Carol, on Veterans Green before the ceremony. Ted -- now 96, and the 2007 grand marshal -- flew 50 missions during World War II.

Ted Diamond and his wife Carol, on Veterans Green before the ceremony. Ted — now 96, and the 2007 grand marshal — flew 50 missions during World War II.

This sign on the parade route says it all.

This sign on the parade route says it all.

Staples junior Jack Baylis sings “America the Beautiful” at the ceremony on Veterans Green.

 

Westport Softball: Past, Present And Future

Baseball is a game of tradition.

So, apparently, is softball.

Staples softballWhen the Staples softball team dedicated its new field at Wakeman on Monday — the culmination of a 3-year, townwide project — the traditional “first pitch” ceremony offered a special twist.

Sharing the honors were current varsity co-captain Emma Moskovitz; 6th grade Little Leaguer Emily Stone, who hopes to one day be a Wrecker; Bill Meyer, longtime Westport softball coach and administrator — and Bill Constantino.

Who?!

Constantino is the grandson of Ike and Pearl Wakeman, who farmed the land for years before its purchase by the town.

Now the complex includes a softball diamond.

Play ball!

Bill Constantino throws out the 1st pitch. Next to him are Bill Meyer, current varsity players, and 6th grade Little Leaguer Emily Stone. (Photo/Matthew Mandell)

Bill Constantino throws out the 1st pitch. Next to him are Bill Meyer, current varsity players including Emma Moskovitz, and 6th grade Little Leaguer Emily Stone. (Photo/Matthew Mandell)

Tickets For Bill Meyer Tribute Still Available

A number of “06880” readers were so inspired by reading about Bill Meyer in this morning’s post, they want to attend his tribute next Sunday (March 10, 3 p.m., Christ & Holy Trinity Church).

Tax-deductible tickets are $25 each. They are available from Pat Scully at the Selectman’s Office in Town Hall, and Sue Pfister at the Senior Center, as well as online at http://thankyoubillmeyer.eventbrite.com. Any funds left after expenses will go to charities of Bill’s choice.

Honoring Bill Meyer

Bill Meyer — Westport’s uber-mega-volunteer-extraordinaire — will be honored next Sunday (March 10).

There’s a reason the 3 p.m. event is in Christ & Holy Trinity’s magnificent Branson Hall: It’s one of the few places in town big enough to hold all of Bill’s admirers.

In his 83 years, Bill has done more than 83 normal people could in 83 lifetimes.

Professionally, he had a fulfilling career as national sales manager for several companies. “We manufactured and sold pens and pencils,” he says of one business.

That’s like saying Bruce Springsteen “plays music.” In fact, Bill managed 800 workers on a Blackfeet Indian reservation in Montana. He was so motivational and inspirational, the tribe adopted him — and gave him an honorary Indian name.

But as much as he traveled, Bill always found time for Westport.

Plenty of time.

Here is a teeny-tiny, way-too-partial list. Bill…

  • was elected 9 times to the RTM. He chairs the Parks and Recreation Committee, and serves on its  Education, and Health and Human Services Committees
  • founded the Westport Little League softball program; was a member of the Little League board of directors; umpired — and had a softball field named for him
  • served as Y’s Men president and membership chairman
  • been a director of Sunrise Rotary, Senior  Center, First Night, Westport’s AARP chapter, Westport Community Theatre, and 2 intercity Bridgeport agencies
  • served on the Saugatuck Congregational Church council
  • mentored a boy from age 5 through adolescence
  • helped with Meals on Wheels
  • volunteered on many Republican campaigns
  • was a board member of Isaiah House in Bridgeport, which helps parolees transition from prison to life outside
  • won the 2004 Service to Older Adults award
  • earned a Westport First award
  • received the YMCA’s Faces of Achievement honor.

I got tired making that list.

Bill never gets tired of anything.

He loves Staples. He loves Westport, sports, the theater, church, the Republican party, volunteering, old people, young people, and his wife Carolyn.

Bill also loves to talk.

Boy, can he talk.

When he takes the mike next Sunday — after tributes from state and local government officials; Little League, Y, LWV, First Night, Sunrise Rotary, Human Services and Saugatuck Church representatives; the Blackfeet Indians, his mentee, and his longtime friend Chris Shays — Bill will likely talk for a while.

He’ll thank all the people who helped him over the years. He’ll tell stories about his many adventures in Westport.  One tale will lead to another. Then another.

And one more.

That’s fine. Bill Meyer deserves his day in the sun.

In fact, no one deserves it more.

This photo epitomizes Bill Meyer. He's volunteering at the Great Duck Race, sponsored by Sunrise Rotary, while hugging Republican State Senator Toni Boucher.

This photo epitomizes Bill Meyer. He’s volunteering at the Great Duck Race, sponsored by Sunrise Rotary, while hugging Republican State Senator Toni Boucher.

Happy Birthday, Bill Meyer!

If you live in Westport and don’t know Bill Meyer, you don’t really live in Westport.

In his 35 years in town, Bill has:

  • Been elected 7 times to the RTM, where he chairs the Parks and Recreation Committee
  • Serves on the RTM’s Education, and Health and Human Services Committees
  • Been a member of the Little League board of directors; still umpires — and had a softball field named for him
  • Served as Y’s Men president and membership chairman
  • Been a director of Sunrise Rotary, Friends of the Senior  Center, First Night, Westport’s AARP chapter, Westport Community Theatre and 2 intercity Bridgeport agencies
  • Served on the Saugatuck Congregational Church council
  • Helped with Meals on Wheels
  • Won the 2004 Service to Older Adults award
  • Earned a Westport First award
  • Received the YMCA’s Faces of Achievement honor

Today, Bill turns 80.  If his 3 1/2 decades here are any indication, he’s just warming up.