My dad, Gerald E. Meek, was born in 1928, lived during the Depression era, and is one of the most successful, accomplished and diversely talented people that I know. In addition to being my partner in business, he was a professional musician, composed hundreds of songs and cantatas, recorded with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, served our country and loved flying. With all of his successes, he also conquered many challenges along the way. At nine years old, he-along with his five-year-old sister and three-year-old brother-were dropped off at a WCTU orphanage. They called it the Farm Home.
After his brother and sister were adopted, my dad, at the age of sixteen, went to San Francisco and worked on a fishing boat with his stepfather. Having a love for flying at seventeen years old, he had his father sign for him as a minor to enlist in the United States Air Force. His goal to fly was not achieved because corrective vision kept him from flying, but for seven years, he played first trumpet in the Air Force Band where he achieved the rank of Technical Sergeant. To this day I still remember the glory of watching him as he paraded around under the US air force flags playing his trumpet for the crowds.
Upon leaving the USAF, he went on the road with a band that traveled the USA. That is where he met my mom and his future wife, Bea Gardy. Two weeks after they met, they were married (and people wonder where I get my bias for action). They are now celebrating sixty-four years of marriage. My dad taught me the value of hard work and discipline; I was the only boy in third grade who could bounce a quarter off my bed sheets. That and all other chores had to be done before I could leave for school.
Dad will be 90 years old this October. He continues to be a kind and gentle spirit. In celebration of his special place in my life, I would like to share with you some of the many amazing details that I know and / or have experienced with my father. May sharing them with you bring the same joy that they have brought me over the years.
- My dad bought his first plane when he was just 18 years old. He played poker and won enough money to buy and fly a used BT-13 and continued his card-playing to pay for fuel and maintenance.
- He is a pilot and flew until he was 80 years old. Whenever he got out of his plane after a flight, it was as if he became 18 years old again with his feet barely touching the ground.
- I still remember all of the Pinewood Derby races when he helped me build the cars for the rocket races. Regardless of the cars design, the lacquer finish had to be perfect. He also knew where and how to place the weight for the speed.
- During my scout days he made certain that I mastered every knot and value of the Boy Scouts.
- I volunteered him for the Scout-O-Rama, a signature family event put on by the Boy Scouts that “highlights the core values and skills of Scouting in a fun manner that is open to the entire community.” He built the most amazing climbing wall that kids of all ages enjoyed.
- Dad taught me carpentry skills both rough and finish. He did not teach only certain aspects, but everything. By the time I was 12, I was able to cut rafters for a conventional roof (no trusses), and he taught me how to hang doors from scratch (not pre-hung).
- He impacted so many people in our industry and was always willing to help and teach.
- He is now compiling his lifetime collection of journals and notebooks to reflect his legacy message through poetry and music.
I could go on forever about how he became the man I wanted to be with so many lessons from life. He was a renaissance man before the term was popularized. Dad is special because he never held anything back. Many cultures only pass on part of what they know, so the dad remains first. My father always wanted to teach me while he carried me on his back, but his end goal was to allow me to reach my potential and stand fully alone on his shoulders.
Dad, you remain my hero. You taught me many things but one theme that was ever present-my integrity is the most important thing in life and the only thing that I truly own. You are the absolute best. I still want to be like you when I grow up!
All my love, Jerry