There are many who knew Walter Meeks better than I did, but few who respected him more. If you knew Mr. Meeks at all, you recognize that he was a larger-than-life personality — a wise and opinionated man who was not at all shy about telling you exactly how he saw things.
The thing is, usually there was a lot of wisdom in how he viewed what was happening in our world. He could talk for hours about any issue imaginable: from gun control, hunting and fishing, feeding alligators, presidential politics, Alaska, historical events or how to make cane syrup.
Mr. Meeks and my family go back long before I was born. My grandparents lived at Folly Farms in the early 1950s, and my mother tells stories about Walter, who at the time was a student at the University of Georgia. My father often mentions Walter and his mother, Bess, who rarely left the house without her pistol in her pocketbook.
I got to know Mr. Meeks well through working with him in several local political campaigns. There were many hours of sign building and installation, and every minute was filled with Walter’s historical tales, jokes, anecdotes and stories, some true and many not. One campaign we were involved in occurred in the late 1990s. During two hot summer months, Mr. Meeks, Angus McLeod and I travelled throughout Bryan County installing political signs. Suffice it to say, I got an education that summer — most of which I cannot repeat in the presence of ladies or children.
A few years later, Mr. Meeks and I were both delegates to a Republican district convention. As we quietly listened to some politician drone on way too long, he leaned over and whispered something in my ear (again, I cannot repeat it in a family newspaper) that made me want to burst out laughing. Have you ever gotten tickled in some place where it would be very inappropriate to laugh? That was what was happening. I had to stare at the floor for several minutes in order to compose myself. Mr. Meeks was like that: a wicked sense of humor and a wisdom that was mixed with a large dose of common sense
Mrs. Meeks once relayed a story about a time she went to a man’s home in order to discuss a matter of contention. Upon her arrival, the man she had come to talk to asked if Mr. Meeks was with her. He was relieved to find out that Mr. Meeks had stayed home. Mrs. Meeks said, “I guess he thought Walter was coming so that he could also tell him a thing or two.” I have no doubt the man was thinking exactly that. Mr. Meek’s strong personality sometimes came with a fiery demeanor.
No matter how well you knew him, Walter Meeks will be truly missed. As is usually the case when we lose someone, I wish I could have spent more time with him, soaking up his wisdom and humor, and to hear just one more story.
Carpenter is on the Richmond Hill City Council and teachs at Richmond Hill High School.