Meyer, Duane Gilbert

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June 29, 1926 - November 22, 2015

Meyer, Duane Gilbert

Dr. Duane G. Meyer, President Emeritus of Southwest Missouri State University, historian, author and professor died at his retirement home in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 2015.  He was 89 years old.  Duane was a dedicated husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and friend who touched many lives with his teaching, compassion and loving counsel.  He served the Lord with gladness.

Born in Carroll, Iowa, on June 29, 1926, the son of Ronald and Dena Meyer, of Carnarvon, Duane was reared in Western Iowa and nurtured in his Faith at Wheatland Presbyterian Church, where his grandfather, Luepke Huendling, was the long time pastor.  During his eight years of elementary school, he attended a one -room country school, Viola #5.  Following graduation from Lake View High School in Lake View, Iowa, in June, 1944, Duane joined the U.S. Navy and served as a pharmacist mate, the lone medic aboard the various landing crafts (LSMs and LSTs) to which he was assigned.

When Dr. Meyer returned home from World War II in 1947, he began his higher education at the University of Dubuque where he met his future wife, Marilyn (‘Lyn) Hansen Meyer, as they sang together in the a cappella choir.  Dr. Meyer earned a B.A. degree with majors in history and chemistry at the University of Dubuque.  Subsequently, he earned an M.A. degree in American History and a Ph. D. in American Colonial History at the University of Iowa. While attending graduate school, Dr. Meyer spent his Sundays filling the pulpit at area churches. After completing his graduate work in 1955, Dr. Meyer was employed as an Assistant Professor in the history department at Southwest Missouri College in Springfield, Missouri.  He remained at the University until his retirement in 1995.  During his years there, he served as a Professor, the International Student Advisor, the Academic Dean and Provost, the acting President on two occasions, and the President from 1971-1983.  He also served as President of the Council on Public Education for Missouri in the mid 1970’s.  Dr. Meyer had many historical publications, but is best known for his books The Highland Scots of North Carolina and The Heritage of Missouri: A History, which became a widely used textbook.

In the citation from an Award of Appreciation, Dr. Meyer’s lectures were described as “legendary”.  He was well known for “painting a picture of history through his words and gestures.  He brought history alive by weaving modern-day examples and personal experiences into his lectures.”  His storytelling and humor engaged his students and made learning fun.  He received the University Foundation’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 1985.

During his tenure as Dean, Dr. Meyer helped grow the faculty, start the graduate program, expand facilities, and establish the West Plains campus.   Milestones during his Presidency include a change in the name of the College to Southwest Missouri State University; growth in enrollment to over 15,000 students, becoming the second largest four year institution in Missouri; moving sports to a Division I level; establishment of the University Foundation, radio station, and various facilities and construction of a new library, later named in his honor.  He received the University’s prestigious Bronze Bear Award in 2000 in recognition for “his contributions to the University, Missouri, and the United States”.

In a Springfield Leader and Press editorial in 1982, as he left the presidency, Dr. Meyer was cited for his “uncommon good sense, his ability to reconcile the most difficult of human relationships by rationale and reason,” and “his uncanny vision of the future “, which “has been greatly responsible for the growth of SMS from a teachers college to one of the best fine arts universities in the Midwest.  He had a genuine respect for the opinions of others and a wonderful capacity to listen”.

Dr. Meyer was also a dedicated church leader.  As a member of the First & Calvary Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Missouri for 57 years, he served as an elder and taught an adult Sunday- School class for 44 years.  He was also commissioned to write a history of the church.  Dr. Meyer was the first lay leader of the Springfield Ministerial Alliance and later became President of the Springfield Council of Churches.

Despite the demands of his profession, Duane was a family man.  He loved planning family trips and activities which created many treasured memories.  His love and laughter will be missed.

Dr. & Mrs. Meyer moved from Springfield, Missouri to Dallas, Texas in February of 2013.  Dr. Meyer is survived by his wife of 64 years, Marilyn (‘Lyn) Meyer.  The couple has four children.  Paul C. Meyer, the oldest, and his wife, Deborah (Naman), reside in Chappaqua, New York.  Their children are Laura, married to Billy (Carey), Stephen, married to Erin (Phillips), and Catherine.  The second son in the Meyer family is Mark L. Meyer.  Mark and his wife, Judiann (Reeves), live in Dallas, Texas.  They have two children, Justin and Christen.  The third Meyer child, James S. Meyer, is married to Louisa (Orr).  They also live in Dallas and have two sons; Ben, who is married to Holly (Gutterud), and John.  The fourth child born to the Meyer family was Andrea L. Meyer, married to John Clayton Crouch.  The Crouch family has two children, Clayton and Lanham, and lives in Lookout Mountain, Georgia.  Dr. & Mrs. Meyer have one great grandson, Cole William Carey, of Greenwich, Connecticut.  Dr. Meyer is also survived by his brother, Milton, Milton’s wife Beverly, their daughters Julie, Deborah, (married to Doug) MacDougal and children, Matthew, James and Sarah; and Cynthia (married to Robert) MacDougal and children, Grant and Paul.

A memorial service for Dr. Meyer will be held on Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 3:00pm at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, 9800 Preston Road in Dallas.

Memorial donations may be made to the Duane and ‘Lyn Meyer Scholarship Fund, Missouri State University Foundation, 300 South Jefferson, Suite 100, Springfield, MO 65806, or the charity of your choice.

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