Lou Meyer knew Perry County intimately.
A lifelong resident, Meyer saw to the transportation needs of many in the community through his businesses, and kept a sharper eye on county roads while serving three terms as Perry County Presiding Commissioner.
Louis W. Meyer, 84, of Perryville, died Wednesday, July 31, at Independence Care Center in Perryville, leaving behind many in the community who praised his leadership.
“I remember Lou was a leader that people looked up to and respected very much back in the 1970s and 1980s,” said Perry County Collector Rodney Richardet. “He was a man that knew Perry County very well and help lay the foundation for what Perry County is today.”
Richardet, who took office in 1987, the year after Meyer retired from the county commission, worked with Meyer while serving in a similar position with the city of Perryville.
“Lou worked well with all areas of government entities from city to state to help Perry County prosper and grow,” Richardet said. “I think you will hear that repeated over and over, which is a testament to the man. Perry County had a great one there.”
Meyer was born Dec. 2, 1934, in Farrar to Gottfried Leo “Fritz” and Esther (Bachmann) Meyer. A U.S. Army veteran who served during the Korean War, Meyer returned to Perry County and married Shirley Hennemann on Oct. 12, 1957, at St. Mary’s of the Barrens Church in Perryville. They were married for 62 years.
As a businessman, Meyer served as the owner and manager of Meyer Bus Line and Fallert Bus Service for many years and was a member of the National School Transportation Association and the Missouri School Bus Contractors Association.
A member of Immanuel Lutheran Church, American Legion Post 133 and AMVETS Post 94, Meyer also served as a board member of the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission and First State Community Bank, as well as a past member of the Perryville Development Corporation. He was also a co-owner of Perryville’s Best Western Motel and owner/operator of Meyer Taxi Service and M & H Texaco.
“I was proud to know him,” said Perryville Mayor Ken Baer. “I was just a young man when he was commissioner and I didn’t really deal with the county government that much, but I knew he was there and always ready to counsel and advise.”
Meyer was elected as presiding commissioner in 1974 and took office in January of 1975, serving three terms as the county’s highest elected official. During that time, he had a massive impact on the community.
“Lou kind of set the foundation for where we are today,” Baer said. “He led Perry County extremely well. He was a terrific leader and a dedicated civil servant. I really appreciate what he did for the county. He served his county well.”
Karl Klaus, who succeeded Meyer as presiding commissioner, expressed similar sentiments.
“I met Lou when he was presiding commissioner,” said Klaus, who described Meyer as easygoing and a hard worker. “He mentioned to me one time that he wasn’t going to run again, so I went up to his office and asked him what he thought about me running and he thought that would be great. He said there’s a couple things you need to remember — ‘Number one, you have to remember that your number one job is the health and well-being of your citizens. Number two is know when to quit.’
“He said that when things got irritable and you felt like you weren’t doing your job, you have to get out and let somebody else take over.”
Meyer announced his retirement at the end of his third term in 1986. Klaus was elected that fall and took office in 1987.
“We remained friends the whole time,” Klaus said, “and talked about things. Then after I’d been in 12 years — after the flood of 1993 — I was sitting there wondering if I should run again and I noticed how irritable I was with people and I remembered what he said. It made my mind up.”
He’s going to be sorely missed,” Baer said.