Robert Meyer
Uncle Chico was the man
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By Robert Meyer
November 13, 2018

I write this to celebrate the life and times of James Robert "Chico" Meyer. Perhaps some of you probably wonder how he got the nick-name Chico. Well, his favorite professional baseball player as a youth was a Latin-American shortstop named Chico Carrasquel. During his Junior High School years he kept a baseball card of Carrasquel in his wallet and emulated his style of play.

His 45 years of work for Kimberly-Clark and its successor companies was a strong testimony of his work ethic.

While Chico shared his faith openly with people of all ages it is his experience with youth I'll emphasize today.

When Chico's father and my grandfather Robert C. Meyer passed away, his obituary column said that he was concerned about the spiritual development of youth. As Grandpa Meyer's younger son, I think Chico did a remarkable job of standing on his father's shoulders in carrying on that legacy. He developed a fabulous report with youth which gave him instant credibility and popularity among them.

To cite an example, I remember several times in the late 60's/early 70's, when some evangelist came to his church for a youth program. He would drive through surrounding neighborhoods, picking up kids in his station wagon on streets corners, and in front of their houses to attend these services. I always marveled that he talked to and influenced so many kids who probably never would have had the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ if not for his efforts.

For several years during the summer, his sons Jim or Jeff would win the award for bringing the most kids to Vacation Bible School.

Chico was the patriarch of a happening we might call The Fair Street experience. I was there as a participant from 1967 to 1974. In the Fair street neighborhood, we had competitions in all sorts of sports, games and hobbies. Everything from coin collecting to the Risk board game to Skittle Bowl. I think that the competitive spirit we exhibited came directly from Chico's influence and involvement with the youth in the neighborhood participating in athletic activities.

I got an initial taste of this the first Christmas I lived there. One of his kids got a game called "Time Bomb" for Christmas. It was an old-fashioned black ball with a timer on it that was wound up. The game was a take-off on musical chairs. You gathered in a circle and passed it around until the timer stopped and it exploded. The person who had it when it blew up was out. Then the game continued on as such. I can still hear Chico's excited laughter as the timer was running down and the bomb was passed faster and faster like a hot potato.

Then there were the epic years of touch football on the road in front of his house. Saturday and Sunday afternoons and sometimes after school. Occasionally, the game ended abruptly if someone called the cops and they came and chased us off the street.

If I was playing on his team, I didn't want to disappoint him, and if I was playing against him, I wanted to beat him. He had high expectations for us that made us all better competitors than we would have been otherwise.

Chico even turned Halloween into a competition. His favorite pet name for me in my youth was "Bobby Beebles." One year just before Halloween he said to me "Beebles, we're going to hit a lot of houses tomorrow night." And hit lots of houses we did.

A common occurrence in those days was what I called the "Chico cattle call." When it was time for dinner, Chico would come out the back door and virtually yodel the names of his children in birth order when it was time to come home for dinner. If you were anywhere in the neighbor you had no excuse to claim you didn't hear him calling out.

During his adult life, He was involved in leagues throughout the Fox Cities in a variety of sports, most notably the Holy Cross basketball tournament held every March in Kaukauna Wi., where he was a participant, coach and fan. When Chico was on the court he was always a crowd pleaser. He delighted spectators with his patented maneuvers while driving to the basket. He used to tell me "I'll still be playing when your children are grown up."

For years he was the custodian for The Church of the Open Bible. He sometimes recruited us to help out on Saturday afternoon, then took everyone next door to Dairy Queen afterward. He began a tradition of going to the Romy's Nightengale buffet on Sunday's .

During the last year I lived on Fair Street, I had the opportunity to play with him in the men's touch football league at Goodland Field and the men's basketball church league at Jefferson School.

I would be remiss to forget all the fun we had up at the cottage on Spencer Lake during the summer months playing softball and volleyball at the campground. We were sometimes asked to quiet down as one team or the other would loudly hum the chorus from "Clancy lowered the boom" while staging a rally.

Given the time he spent at Spencer Lake during both his working and retirement years, it's fitting he will laid to rest there also.

Later, after I moved out to Greenleaf, I remember him driving out of his way to pick me up for prayer meetings in De Pere.

At some point he developed a fondness for Southwestern style jewelry and sported some interesting attire in cooler months. Once I saw a fellow walking down a local busy street with the countenance of Jeremiah Johnson on top of his mountain, only to discover on closer inspection that it was my own uncle.

I need to say thank you to him for the many rich experiences.

There are probably few people who combined their passions for athletics and the Gospel to positively influence youth as much as he did. Perhaps he didn't consciously plan it that way, but everything worked out for the good as he faithfully and energetically pursued his passions.

The outpouring today confirms the truth that what matters is not only how much you love, but how much you are loved by others.

Now I want to offer some final thoughts. The last time we had the opportunity to visit with him, Chico said to those present regarding his illness " I believe God can heal, but why he chooses to do so sometimes, but often not is to us a mystery." I fully understand that some people will find that kind of serenity less than satisfying. Fulfilling both the inquiry of the mind along with quenching the cries of the heart is more than a formidable task.

Many people suggest that you need to find a philosophy to live by. But Chico's life proved you need a bit more than just that. You need the belief system you can lean on and graciously embrace as your earthly existence comes to an end.

James "Chico" Meyer had that blessed assurance in abundance and his reward is now the treasures he laid up in Heaven. And though the ripple of his earthly life on the pond of eternity has ended, the waves of good tidings and inspiration he wrought in live will continue to reach the hopeful shore.

© Robert Meyer

 

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Robert Meyer

Robert Meyer is a hardy soul who hails from the Cheesehead country of the upper midwest... (more)

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