The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

November 2, 2013

Judge John P. Meyer


The Commercial-News

---- — Judge John P. Meyer, lifelong resident of Danville, passed this life on Oct. 31, 2013.

He was born on Aug. 17, 1920, the son of Frank P. and Frances Clare (Brady) Meyer.

Locally, he attended both Washington and St. Patrick’s grade schools, and then graduated from Danville High School in 1937. He attended the University of Notre Dame, earning a bachelor of science in commerce degree, and a doctor of laws degree from the Notre Dame Law School.

After being admitted to the Illinois Bar, he practiced law in the Vermilion, Sangamon, and Cook County areas for more than 55 years, retiring in 2003. He first practiced in the firm of Burke, Twomey, and Johnson. He then started a partnership with Henry Wise and Thomas Graham. The firm later added Charles Young, Daniel Welsh, and Paul Maton. The firm then became Graham, Wise, Meyer, Young, Welsh and Maton. He was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and won an important antitrust case before that body. In his retirement years, he officed in the law firm with his son, Chris, named Dukes, Ryan, Meyer & Freed, Ltd.

He was elected and served in the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate, then later was elected and served as judge of the circuit court for the Fifth Judicial Circuit. While in the House and Senate, he introduced and passed legislation creating a public defenders office for downstate Illinois, also the Fair Employment Practices Act (that prohibits unfair employment practices because of race, color, or creed). He also served as chairman of the Legislative Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and introduced and passed legislation creating state funding of Illinois Community Colleges, including DACC.

His father, Frank P. Meyer, was mayor of Danville for eight years. John’s brother, Frank J. “Bus” Meyer, served as circuit judge for the Fifth District and fathered Mark C. Meyer, Thomas “Tuck” Meyer and Mary Frances (Meyer) Lewis. John’s mother, Frances Clare (Brady) Meyer, a lovely talented lady, sang between double features at the Fischer Theatre. Her Irish voice enthralled all who attended.

He married Barbara (Martin) Cullen in 1942. From that marriage came John P. Meyer Jr. (Toni), Marilyn (Meyer) Manfredi (Rudy), Elizabeth (Meyer) Elam (Russell), Michael Meyer, Melinda (Meyer) Jankowski (David), and Christopher P. Meyer (Susan), all surviving.

In 1969, he married Mertyce (Erickson) Fagot, mother of Tamara (Fagot) Goetting, Marc B. Fagot (Robin), and Robert “Rob” Fagot (Kathy). Rob is the only surviving stepchild. He also is survived by 11 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, and seven step-grandchildren.

During World War II, he served with the 14th Armored Division (The Liberators) as an Artillery Forward Observer (FO), directing indirect fire for both infantry and tank battalions, and was awarded both the Silver Star and Bronze Private for gallantry in action. He entered service as a private and was discharged in 1946 as a captain. He has served as adjutant general of the 14th Armored Division since his discharge.

During his legal career, he served as first assistant attorney general for the State of Illinois. He also received the Thomas J. Crowe Interracial Justice Award.

Judge Meyer was chosen as a First Citizen of Danville in 1987; both his father and brother preceded him as chosen First Citizens.

In his legal work he was assisted by Doris Erickson, his legal secretary for more than 50 years.

J.P., as called by friends, was active in community service with youth football, the Museum Society, United Way, Schlarman Foundation, first president of the Danville Dans and as president signed Leon Wagner who later won the American League Batting Championship, and his pet project, The Christian Home for Youth, which assisted in the rehabilitation of juveniles who came before the Juvenile Court. This home operated successfully for several years, then merged with the Illinois Christian Society.

Judge Meyer was a member of St. Paul’s Church, American Legion, DAV, VFW, Elks, Danville Country Club, Illinois Judges Association, and Vermilion County and American Bar Associations.

He, with his wife Mertyce Meyer, purchased, sold, and raced thoroughbred horses, some of whom were winners of races in Florida, Kentucky and Illinois. Judge Meyer also authored the popular book “Observations of an Elderly Gentleman.”

Funeral services will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at St. Paul’s Catholic Church, 1303 N. Walnut St. in Danville with the Rev. Greg Nelson officiating. Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, at Pape Family Funeral Home, 10 E. Williams St. in Danville. A rosary will be at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the funeral home. Entombment will be in Resurrection Mausoleum with military honors by American Legion Post 210.

Memorials may be made to St. Paul’s Church, Holy Family Church, First Presbyterian Church, Schlarman Academy, Vermilion County Museum, Center for Children’s Services, Vermilion County War Museum, or a charity of the donor’s choice. Guest register: www.papemortuary.com


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