'Small town does not mean small mind'
Two days before his mother’s funeral, Marion County Record editor and publisher Eric Meyer asked whether full-time employees — all women — could gather ’round.
“I need some womanly advice,” he said.
He wanted staff to weigh in on which of two contending outfits Joan Meyer should be buried in Saturday.
The vote was unanimous.
A patterned jacket in beige, gray, and black with subtle sparkles and a lace back.
Then, a question: “Eric, did you bring anything for her to wear under this? It’s see-through.”
He quickly fetched a sleeveless knit shell that went with the rejected, slightly frumpy outfit.
Later, Record staff agreed a rose that someone crafted with newsprint should be placed over her heart.
Meyer returned to doing interviews with national, regional, and area reporters; helping answer the thousands of calls the Record has received about a raid of its newsroom the day before his 98-year-old mother collapsed and died; and most important, journalism.
A death certificate indicates she died from sudden cardiac arrest — due, her son believes, to heartbreak, sadness, and disbelief that police would seize equipment from the newspaper that she, her late husband, and her only child bought to prevent a newspaper chain gobbling up yet another small-town publication.
“Where are all the good people?” she tearfully asked her son.
“She believed in the good people,” pastor Ron DeVore said.
About 100 of them gathered Saturday at Valley United Methodist Church, where she was the church’s longest-term member, to say goodbye to her. The smell of stargazer lilies filled the nave.
Kansas Press Association, National Newspaper Association, Society of Professional Journalists, and Marion County businesses sent about two dozen floral arrangements.
Joan Meyer, DeVore said, was “the community’s mother.”
She didn’t attend college and lived within a six-block radius in Marion for almost a century, read voraciously and served as a reminder that “small town does not have to mean small mind,” DeVore said.
“She has gone to her reward now,” DeVore said. “But she has left us with a legacy.
“You can continue her legacy. You can consider deeply. You can think long. You can reflect before you speak and before you write.
“You too can do the right thing.”
Her funeral was reverent but certainly not sad, buoyed by coloratura soprano Beverly Hoch, a Marion native who was a soloist at Caroline Kennedy and Edwin Schlossberg’s wedding in 1986, and by Hoch’s husband and Marion High School classmate, noted jazz trumpeter Mike Steinel.
Hoch, who has performed around the world, lifted spirits as well as the high notes.
At one point, she turned to the pews in front of her, gesturing grandly for everyone to sing along.
And then, Record office manager Cheri Bentz and reporter Phyllis Zorn led a procession to Marion Cemetery in the newspaper’s white Ford van, typically used by employees distributing papers.
Last modified Aug. 24, 2023