By Msgr. Frank Henricksen
Knowing Father Bill Meyer as the “punster priest” of the diocese, I am sure that if he could sing, it would be the lyrics of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” We can also be sure that in the spirit of Advent he is ready with the announcement that: “I’m here — I have come home.”
Father William O. Meyer passed away last Saturday afternoon, completing 92 years among us. Of that time, 68 years were served as a priest of our diocese. Yes, he will be remembered for the talent of turning every introductory of conversation to the form of a pun. His classic and signature pun was the greeting to us fellow priests gathered for the annual blessing of holy oils. Appropriate now maybe, but even in the spring, it was “Merry Chris-mas.”
We will all be remembered for something. His humor was only a clear indication of his openness and willingness to be of help and service. Fr. Bill was totally dedicated to his priesthood. He was a native of Davenport and attended St. Ambrose Academy and College. But when the college was closed for the Navy during World War II, he had to go to Loras College in Dubuque. Finishing up at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., he came home and was ordained, due to circumstances, in Dubuque.
The ministry of Fr. Bill started in Iowa City where he served for 11 years. Checking the records, he proved that if you live long enough you can outlive some of your assignments. For instance, St. Patrick at Big Rock and St. Malachy at Ardon have been long closed. St. James in Toronto closed two years ago, although Mass is still held there.
Many lives have been touched by his dedication. Many served by him will remember him nonetheless, while many more will be on hand to welcome him home. Let us say it was the true Christmas spirit we need every day of the year that they experienced. The kind Fr. Bill was witness to in active or retired ministry.
With Father’s passing — which goes for all of us — there will be a vacancy in the lives left behind. His empty spot for his retired brother priests will be the publication of his “joyful noise:” DARP (Diocesan Association of Retired Priests). It’s a three-page letter of jokes, with one of them full of cartoons, all relevant for us retirees. This work of the prime Punster has been going for about 17 years. The job is now open.
Fr. Bill served the Davenport Deanery as the dean for over two terms. We were grateful for all his years of faithful service to the church. That includes his perfect attendance at every conference or event right up to the last. Thanks Father Bill! Thanks for your love and the lesson of a need for a sense of humor.
Fr. Meyer 1925-2017
DAVENPORT — Father William Meyer, a retired priest of the Diocese of Davenport, died Dec. 9.
He was born Sept. 4, 1925, in Davenport to Otto and Ella Meyer. He attended St. Mary School and St. Ambrose Academy, both in Davenport. He then studied at St. Ambrose College in Davenport and Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. He completed this theology studies at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn.
On May 26, 1949, he was ordained to the priesthood in Christ the King Chapel on the Loras campus in Dubuque by Bishop Edward Fitzgerald, auxiliary bishop of Dubuque. Bishop Ralph Hayes of the Davenport Diocese was in Rome at the time.
Fr. Meyer was an assistant pastor at St. Mary Parish-Iowa City from 1949-60 and at St. Paul the Apostle Parish-Davenport from 1960-68. He then served as pastor at St. James Parish-Toronto and St. Patrick Parish-Big Rock from 1968-71, St. Mary Parish-Muscatine from 1971-81, St. Malachy Parish-Ardon from 1971-72, Our Lady of Victory Parish-Davenport from 1981-93 and St. Mary Parish-Mechanicsville from 1993-99. He retired from active ministry in 1999.
Fr. Meyer’s funeral was scheduled for Dec. 13 at Our Lady of Victory. Burial was set for the family plat in Holy Family Cemetery, Davenport.