William Meyer, formerly of Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, died peacefully on April 16, 2013 in Port Orange, Fla. in the presence of his family. He was born in Lake Placid on Nov. 4, 1923, the son of Simon and Celia Meyer. Bill, as he was known, was the youngest of three children. In his youth, Bill was an avid tennis player and golfer. He was a lifelong fitness enthusiast.
His father emigrated from eastern Poland, near the current city of Zamosc, when he was near the age of 16, entering the United States at Ellis Island around 1900 and selling goods from a street cart before becoming a tailor. Simon moved to Lake Placid for his health in 1904 and eventually opened his own clothing store on Main Street which he operated until his death in 1954. Bill's mother, Celia Meyer, was born in New York City, moved to Lake Placid around 1912 after her marriage to Simon, and died in 1972.
Bill attended Lake Placid High School, participating in basketball and track, and graduated in 1942. He enlisted in the Army during WWII, serving in the Air Corps from 1942-46. He taught celestial navigation and reached the rank of staff sergeant. In June 1944, while at Chatham Field in Georgia, he contracted typhus and was hospitalized near death for a month. Following his honorary discharge, Bill attended the University of Vermont (UVM), pursuing a degree in medicine. While at UVM he met Lenore Eichel, who would become his wife of 64 years. Convinced by his older brother, Norman, that he should become a pharmacist and join Norman in operating a chain of drugstores in the North Country, Bill enrolled at the Albany College of Pharmacy. Upon receiving his pharmacist license, Bill and Norman operated drug stores in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. Bill and Lenore married in 1948, and they eventually moved to Saranac Lake where he spent most of his professional career managing drug stores there and in Lake Placid. In the early 1980s he went into semi-retirement, working part-time as a pharmacist at the Adirondack Correctional Facility in Ray Brook. In 1989, he and Lenore relocated to Port Orange, Florida where they spent 24 wonderful retirement years. He was an active member of the Port Orange Family YMCA.
One of Bill's proudest achievements was the establishment of North Country Community College, for which he was recognized as the primary driving force in its creation. His tenacious and unswerving pursuit of a community college first began with his efforts to locate an extension campus of Canton A.T.C. (now SUNY Canton) in Saranac Lake. Undeterred by bureaucratic roadblocks in Albany, and aided by the late James Loeb, then-Assemblyman James E. LaPan, Howard J. Riley, the late Dr. Anthony Gedroiz, and the late William Mansion, a community college for Essex and Franklin counties was finally authorized in 1966. Despite being told that NCCC would be lucky to have 100 students, it was an almost instant success and has resulted in thousands of college graduates since its inception in 1967. Bill served on the college Board of Trustees and was honored by NCCC with the "Distinguished Service Award" for his untiring efforts to bring higher education to Saranac Lake for the benefit of its youth.
Bill was also a member of the village of Saranac Lake Planning Board, the Citizens Committee studying public schools, the Saranac Lake Central School District Board of Education, and the Board of Directors of Key Bank. In 1964, he was recognized by the Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce for "outstanding service to the community."
He is survived by his wife, Lenore, of Port Orange, Fla., and four sons: David and Helen Vahey Meyer of Latrobe, Pa.; James and Elizabeth Cowles Meyer of Spokane, Wash.; Richard and Gail Cagwin Meyer of Saranac Lake; and Paul and Heidi Burstein Meyer of Acworth, Ga. Bill is also survived by ten grandchildren: Laura Meyer Lowry and Joseph Lowry of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Jessica Meyer of State College, Pa.; Emily Meyer of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Hannah Meyer of Latrobe, Pa.; William Cowles Meyer and Ty Cowles Meyer of Spokane, Wash.; Charles Meyer of Pawtucket, R.I.; Samuel Meyer of New York City; and Ryan Meyer and Brooke Meyer of Acworth, Ga. Also surviving are three nephews: John Meyer and Robert Meyer of Plattsburgh and Steven J. Lee of Osprey, Florida, and a niece, Janet Meyer of Andover, Massachusetts. He was predeceased by his brother, Norman Meyer, and his sister, Irene Sly.
Those wishing to remember Bill can make donations in his memory to Halifax Health Hospice of Volusia/Flagler, 3800 Woodbriar Trail, Port Orange, Florida 32129.
A family celebration of Bill's life will be held from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., Saturday July 20 at his former home at 66 Old Military Road, Saranac Lake. Friends wishing to join the celebration are invited to attend.