Longtime Richmond Hill and Bryan County resident Walter W. Meeks Jr., 82, passed away Wednesday at his home after an extended illness, but his memory is not soon to be forgotten by those who knew him well.
"He was my type of fellow and he was a little like I am, if you don’t want his opinion don’t ask him," said Richard Davis, friend and former Richmond Hill mayor. "He was always straight forward and would tell you what he thought, and I like that in people. He was just a great guy."
Davis said Meeks could be remembered for standing his ground for what he thought was right and he "never differed from that."
"With any issue, he stood by it — and he wasn’t always right, but he was right more than he was wrong," Davis said with a laugh. "He was just a great guy, and it was a pleasure in my life to have known him for so many years."
Sam Davis, a family friend and county probate judge, also considered Meeks a great man. He described Meeks as a "people person."
"He was type guy that material things didn’t matter, the thing that mattered more to him than anything else was that he loved everybody," he said.
Davis recalled Meeks’ sense of humor.
"He was really a funny, funny fellow, he was the kind of guy that if you wanted to know something, his mind was filled with (what) some people may call trivia," he said. "Even in his latter days, his mind was sharp. He was very knowledgeable, about our area, state and the country.
"Sometimes we’d sit up at Hardees, a bunch of us would, including his son, John, and someone would raise a question about a historical fact … None of us would know the answer and (John) would say ‘just a minute,’ and he’d call his dad."
Davis said his life was impacted by both Meeks and his wife, Mary Frances Lane Meeks, and that he would be missed.
"The community will miss him because of his involvement and years gone by," Davis said. "We’ll miss him because of his wealth of knowledge historically on Richmond Hill and Bryan County and we’ll miss him because he was a good friend. My life is made better because I knew Walter and Frances Meeks — they touched a lot of people."
Meeks, who was a graduate of Long County High School and the University of Georgia, spent nearly 30 years representing Bryan County on the Coastal Electric Membership Board of Directors.
Mark Bolton, vice president of communications, marketing and economic development for Coastal Electric Cooperative, said Meeks was one of the finest people he’d ever known.
"He was a rock-solid citizen of unwavering faith, deeply committed to his family," Bolton said. "He stood for truth, honor and unquestionable integrity."
He called Meeks a "marvelous storyteller" who spoke with authority on just about anything.
"Whenever Walter joined a group of people, he was probably the smartest guy in the room," Bolton said. "He knew a little something about everything. It was enlightening just being in his presence.
He recalled how Meeks, an Eagle Scout, always wore his original pin anytime he attended a Scouting event and was generous with his time and talent for causes he believed in.
"Walter Meeks was just a real prince of a fellow. I‘m a better man for having known him," Bolton said.
Meeks is survived by his wife of 58 years, Mary Frances Lane Meeks; two sons, Walter Watson Meeks III and John Harold Meeks; four grandchildren, Mary Elizabeth Meeks, John Harold "Beau" Meeks Jr., Evan Lane Meeks and Lewis Williams Meeks.
The funeral is at 11 a.m. today at Carter Funeral Home Bryan Chapel in Richmond Hill. Internment will follow at Burnt Church Presbyterian Cemetery on Highway 144.
See the full obituary on page 3.