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Memorial Service

Thursday, September 1, 2005 0:21 AM CDT

Dave's Memorial Service

A beautiful day, sunny, clear and not too hot. 1600 gather, wearing clothes bright with blue, purple, Hawaiian flowers and Disneyland characters. They are here to say goodbye. The only clouds are inside.

There are beautiful flowers everywhere, pictures of Dave, a Wa-Hi football jersey and helmet, high school trophies and his beloved guitar, the only object that meant anything to Dave, looking lonely on stage.

Bob and Judy, on their anniversary, grieving, sad, welcoming friends and family.

Shane, Jeffrey & Patrice play beautiful music, some of Dave's favorite songs.

The football coaches, resplendent in Wa-Hi royal and white, come in from the field, tan and tall, smelling of the sun and fresh grass crushed under cleats. They are warm when I hug them, they feel strong. They feel like Dave.

We gather in the family room, but after praying with Robin, Denise and I can't stay there, we sneak to the back of the sanctuary to watch the people and listen to the music. Zach finds us and sneaks in to hug his friends. We long to be part of all that is happening. We want to take in every minute. We want to stop time.

I find myself needing Mark and Erik and Deb and Cindy. When we come into the sanctuary, I see those faces and break into a smile. I wonder what people think when they see me smile.

We settle in the pews. Kate sees Dave's guitar and snuggles close. "I miss Daddy." "Me too, love, me too." I find myself wishing I had 3 sides, so I could be right next to all three of our children.

I hear Skip welcome us, pray with us. Above him, a picture of Dave, sitting with bandana around his head, on the front porch at the beach, putting on his boots. The picture is washed with blue, you can just make out the water in the background. You can see he's readying to walk away.

Dave's brother, Bob reads from Dave's favorite chapter, Romans 8: "I am convinced that nothing can separate us from the love that is Christ Jesus."

Jeffrey and Patrice and Shane begin to sing:
"Oh Lord, You're beautiful,
Your face is all I see
For when Your eyes are on this child
Your grace abounds to me...."

Erik Haroldson plays the piano, sings in a voice so pure and strong and clear, the song he wrote for Dave twenty years ago:
"My friend with the magic guitar
Lend him your ears, open your heart
He’ll sing a song for you
Because he knows just how you’re feeling
And if you listen carefully, I’m sure that you will see
The story of the magic man hidden behind his words
And then he’ll smile songs of happiness
And he’ll whisper words of tears
He’ll share all his secrets with you
Because he just wants, just wants someone to hear

Don’t you know that I hear?"

Zach, leaning forward in his pew, sending Erik love, so that Erik can sing. Kate, singing along, softly.

Peter Wiederspan, talks about how we can get to know Dave loving those around us, by learning to play and instrument, and playing it long and loud and ignoring everything else around, by telling everyone in sight when you fall in love, by honoring your parents, by loving Jesus and letting His light shine in you, you'll know Dave better.

Shane, Jeffrey & Patrice begin "Forever," a song Dave sang with the kids when he taught Vacation Bible School, kept singing with Sunday School classes and finally brought up to the sanctuary. The children came forward to do the hand motions.

"Let my song be a sweet perfume
Rising up to heaven
Let my life be a prayer to You
Pleasing You forever..."

Mark Thompson came to tell us of Dave, a basketball player, learning to coach football, reaching out to care for each player, no matter their talent. He spoke of the years of Tuesday evenings, Coach and the Music Man, preaching and singing at the chapel at the Christian Aid Center, ministering to and loving the least of these. Of a man who learned from his parents to love and be loved and to follow God in all he did. A man unafraid to really love the people in his life and to tell them so.

Dave's brother, Greg, read from James 1, "Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness....Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him."

Mark Nelson, guitar in hand, the pain of losing his friend etched on his face sang "Coming Home."
"The sun stood still today
And everything was bright
And even though there was no time
They waited an eternity
For you

You held your son so close again
Your Father pulled you closer in
And all the angels held their breath
And watched you take another step
To Him

The angels were dropping everything
To lift you up and bring your wings
A choir sang their welcoming
And you joined in once more to sing


Harvey Wellington shared about Dave, the full meal deal, a young boy running through campgrounds, a boy surrounded by love and faith, a teenager eating everything in sight and playing basketball every spare moment, a young father struggling with loss, a teacher and coach who truly made a difference for so many, a grown man who told kids, "I believe in you. You can do it."

Rev. Robin Peterson, Dave's pastor and mentor for most of his life, shared about meeting the teenager, the shining star, scholar, athlete, full of promise, who shone, then struggled, then overcame. He reminded us what Dave would have said. He was an ordinary man, who accomplished extraordinary things by allowing himself to be used as God's instrument. He shared the lyrics of a song and he shared his broken heart, the depth of his love for Dave showing in his words, his face, his voice.

Then the slide show, put together by Jeffrey Townsend. An incredible tribute. I gave Jeffrey 300 pictures (scanned by Thomas Bebee) and a set of songs. Jeffrey created pure of Dave, as a little boy, growing up in the arms of a loving, secure, faithful family. As a child, playing with his brothers. As a teenager, shooting hoops and playing football. As a young man, playing music. As a husband, shining with love. As a father, every picture a portrait of adoration. As a patient, showing strength through his weakness. As a friend, enjoying moment with the people he loved.

In the background, "You'll Be In My Heart" by Phil Collins, "My Front Porch Looking In" by Lonestar, "More" by Matthew West, "Forever Young" by Rod Stewart, "This is Your Life" by Switchfoot, and "I Can Only Imagine" by MercyMe. Kenny and Zach and Kate are all singing along with each song, getting stronger with every word, raising their voices in true Dave fashion, celebrating the love, the and the same. The love and the music.

Dave's smile is in every frame. In many of the pictures, other eyes turn toward the camera, but we see Dave, gazing on the faces he loves, drinking them in. We see birthday parties where all the adults sit on the perimeter and Dave is playing right in the middle with all the kids. Pictures of him, in coaching blue or black, striding across the field, clipboard in hand, encouraging pats on the back for players. Pictures of him tenderly holding babies. Pictures of him throwing the ball for his boys. Pictures of him with his head thrown back, laughing. Pictures of him with his guitar, shining that smile, talking to Mark and Erik without any words at all. Pictures of him in his wheelchair. Pictures of Darren shaving his head. And finally, pictures of him in the hospital bed where he spent his last days, still connecting with people, welcoming them in, drawing them near.

We cried, then laughed, then cried some more. Amy cried, unable to be consoled. I lifted her. She clung to me for a few seconds, then reached for Zach. He held her until she could breathe again, until she felt safe and calm.

We then sang "Amazing Grace" with Hanna Peterson's beautiful voice leading us.
"Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
But now am found
Was blind but now I see."

I'm sure I'll be editing this, there is so much to say, and some of the words are jumbled, but beginning to sort themselves out. I know I've made mistakes, but it was a beautiful tribute to a great man, who lived for others, never letting an opportunity to care or reach out pass by. He had many "refugees," people he took in and called his own. He faced every trial honestly and bravely. He gave his all. Someone said, "The paper got it almost right. They said he was a kid magnet. Dave was a people magnet." How right that is. I am still hearing about people whose lives were touched, transformed, by knowing Dave.

It was a priviledge to know him, to love him. And saying goodbye is nearly impossible.

The obituary follows:

David Joseph Meyer
December 28, 1962 – August 23, 2005

Dave Meyer, 42, died at home, surrounded by love, after a valiant eight-year battle against a malignant brain tumor. Throughout his journey, he never gave up, fought the good fight, and showed us what courage looks like.

Dave was an incredibly caring person with a bright smile and a warm embrace. His boundless energy, positive attitude and love for God touched everyone who knew him. He was an inspirational teacher, who loved his students and cared about each one. He was a coach who had an impact on his players on and off the field. He was a loving husband and a father beyond measure. He was a gifted musician and songwriter, sharing his love of music with so many. This was a man who glowed with the love of Jesus. He was a hero and an inspiration, although he never liked to hear that, always giving the glory of his accomplishments to his Lord.

Dave was born in Aberdeen, WA in 1962 and grew up in College Place and Walla Walla, attending Davis Elementary, Sager Middle School, Garrison Middle School and Walla Walla High School. He was an outstanding athlete, scholar, and student leader. He was involved in student government, basketball, football, Chamber singers, and drama. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in English at the University of Puget Sound in 1987, where he played basketball, played in a band, “The Currents,” and was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He did his graduate work at Eastern Washington University. He married Michelle Lynn Bond in 1986.

Dave taught at Curtis Junior High and McIllvaigh Middle School in Tacoma. He and his family returned to Walla Walla in 1992, where following in his father’s footsteps, he began teaching and coaching at Walla Walla High School leaving a legacy of love, honor and integrity in all he did. He taught history and English and coached football and basketball at Wa-Hi, and helped create the Conspiracy of Hope annual event. He volunteered his time, coaching Little League baseball, Little League softball, YMCA basketball and AAU basketball. His love of the game and his code of sportsmanship have guided many young athletes. He was an active advocate for youth with disabilities, encouraging opportunities for inclusion and acceptance for all people, coaching Special Olympics and Challenger baseball. He volunteered at CareNet and the Christian Aid Center.

He joins his son, Kyle Douglas Meyer (January 2-27, 1989) in heaven. He is missed by his family: wife, Michelle Meyer, sons, Kenny and Zachary Meyer and little girl, Kate Meyer, his parents Bob and Judy Meyer, his two brothers and their families, Bob, Mindy, Annalee and Caleb Meyer and Greg, Stephanie, Aaron and Micaiah Meyer, his parent-in-law, Carol and Dennis Bond, his sister-in-law and family, Denise, Darren, Jakob, Amy and Lukas Ullmann, his grandparents, Spud Grim and Edith Meyer.

Dave was a man who never knew a stranger, who truly loved the people in his life and never missed an opportunity to show that he cared. His light continues to shine in each person who knew him, especially his children.

The Walla Walla Union Bulletin also did a front page story on Dave, The TriCities Herald did a story on the front page of the local section and the news from Kennewick came and did a news story, interviewing teachers, administrators and students about Dave.

It's so clear to me that I won't be the only one missing him, that he leaves a huge hole for so many.

Union-Bulletin Article:
Wednesday, August 24, 2005

WW coach, teacher dies
David Meyer, remembered as `a kid magnet,' died this morning after a long fight with cancer.

By Sheila Hagar and Luis Gomez of the Union-Bulletin

A longtime Walla Walla High School teacher and coach died Tuesday morning after battling cancer.

David Meyer, 42, taught social studies at Wa-Hi since 1992, and coached basketball and football. He participated in various clubs and organizations on campus.

Meyer was involved in and influenced by gospel music and played in a Christian band, Wa-Hi Principal Brian Pendleton said today.

The teacher was diagnosed with brain cancer in late 1996, after a car accident required a head CT scan. He died in his home after valiantly battling his illness, Pendleton said.

``Dave was absolutely a warrior. I couldn't describe him in any other word. This (disease) was absolutely not going to get him down. With every surgery his goal was to get back in the classroom in six to eight weeks,' Pendleton said.

``He was a tremendous man of faith.'

The school district was supportive of Meyer's goal, hiring a long-term substitute teacher to fill in for the ill teacher when he was gone and to be ready to step into the gap on days Meyer's strength would not allow him to finish classes, the principal said.

``He never left the job for good.'

Meyer's dedication was noted by his students, Pendleton said. ``A lot of kids would say to you that they learned how to battle things in life by watching Dave Meyer. He was loved by many, many students.'

Skip Pritchard, associate pastor at College Place Presbyterian Church, had known Meyer for 23 years.

Meyer led the church's worship team and was a favorite among the congregation's children. He also played guitar at the Christian Aid Center and befriended special-needs adults, Pritchard said.

In his journey with brain cancer, done with faith and courage, Meyer taught people how to live, the pastor said. ``He lived his life out loud. This was a remarkable man.'

The Meyer family has chronicled their past year on a Web site called Caring Bridge, a free, online service that allows families to keep people updated during ordeals such as theirs.

``It was a place where everyone could keep updated on his condition, and it was easy to go up and talk to him and ask him about things,' Pendleton said. The site allowed school staff and friends to understand the situation without imposing on the family, he added.

The Walla Walla resident came from a family of educators. His father, Bob, and his mother, Judy, also taught at Walla Walla public schools.

Meyer was homecoming king at Wa-Hi in 1980 and graduated in 1981. He earned his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Puget Sound.

``This is a tremendous loss to our educational family,' Walla Walla School District Superintendent Rich Carter said in a written statement released Tuesday.

``Dave was a kid magnet who really connected with students. Our district is grieving his passing, but will remember his strength and dedication to education as we welcome students back for a new year.'

Meyer is survived by his wife, Michelle, and children, Kenny, a ninth-grader at Wa-Hi, Zack, an eighth-grader at Pioneer Middle School, and Kaitlyn, a fourth-grader at Berney Elementary School.

Funeral arrangements are pending at Herring Groseclose Funeral Home, 315 W. Alder St.


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