Eulogy for Bob Meyler – One of Our “Greatest Generation”
As one of Bob's son-in-laws, I have had the distinct honor to have had his example in my life for nearly 32 years.
Author and Journalist Tom Brokaw once wrote a book about, “The Greatest Generation”. He argued that these men and women fought… not for fame and recognition,… but because it was the right thing to do. That Generation rebuilt America into the respected superpower we've all come to know.
Bob was one of the very few remaining of our Undisputed, “GREATEST GENERATION”
I myself, having served 6 years in the military and over 25 years as a Police Officer,… am humbled by the this man…. who gave so much to this country, his community, his family and his friends.
These men and women came of age in the Great Depression, when economic despair hovered over the land like a plague. They had watched their parents lose their businesses, their farms, their jobs, their hopes. They had learned to accept a future that played out - one day at a time.
Then, just as there was a glimmer of economic recovery, war exploded across Europe and Asia. When Pearl Harbor made it irrefutably clear that America was not a fortress,- --this generation was summoned to work and train for war.
They left their ranches, their jobs, they gave up their place on the assembly lines in Detroit and in the ranks of Wall Street, they quit school or they went from cap and gown directly into uniform.
They answered the call to save the world from the two most powerful and ruthless military machines ever assembled in far away countries in the hands of fascist maniacs.
They faced great odds, but they did not protest. At a time in their lives when the days and nights should have been filled with innocent adventure, love, and the lessons of the new world,… they were fighting, often hand to hand, in the most primitive conditions possible, across the bloodied landscape of France, Belgium, Italy, Austria and India.
They fought their way up a necklace of South Pacific islands; few had ever heard of before, islands with names like Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal and Okinawa. They were asked to serve and fight every day.. in the air, on hostile waters of the sea, and on many lands, far removed from the shores of their homeland.
When the Great War was over, the men and women who had been involved, …in uniform and in civilian capacities,… joined in joyous and short-lived celebrations,… then they immediately began the task of rebuilding their lives and the world they wanted for new generations.
They were mature beyond their years, tempered by what they had just been through, disciplined by their military training and sacrifices. They married in record numbers and gave birth to another distinctive generation, the Baby Boomers.
Unlike many in subsequent generations… They stayed true to their values of personal responsibility,…Duty,…honor,…and faith.
The Bible instructs us in Rom. 13:7, to give honor to whom honor is due. Surely this passing generation of ordinary people who did extraordinary things deserves our gratitude and recognition.
Robert Gephard Meyler, Jr, Born on August 9, 1920 is indeed a shining example of America's Greatest Generation.
Bob was a 6th generation Californian, born in Los Angeles,
He attended Los Angeles High School, as did his Father and Grandmother
After High School he attended Cornell University for where he received a degree in Engineering.
In his early years, Bob was a very accomplished pianist and often dreamed of making this talent his career, even though he knew that a profession as an engineer was more pragmatic and stable in the raising of a family.
After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Bob enlisted in the Army to serve his country. Bob was first sent to India to assist the Allied Forces in the battles against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Ultimately he was sent to Japan to fight in the many battles before its conclusion in 1945.
In 1947, He met Barbara Broatch (the love of his life), during a trip to Sequoia.
Barbara, a recorded singing artist, was there to sing in a Talent Show. Unbeknownst to Bob, Barbara was in need of a talented pianist to accompany her in her performance.
A friend advised Bob of Barbara's distress. As a man of duty and honor (and at the speed of sound)…Bob jumped at the chance to help this Beautiful young lady in her time of need.
After a period of pursuit and then courting, Bob and Barbara were married in 1949.
As the Meyler family grew to 7 over a period of 12 years, that musical talent which impassioned Bob, touched them all.
Also, some may not realize that Bob's wishes for a large family were also handed down to 3 of his 5 children, producing a whole bunch of Grandchildren.
Now, going back to the early years of Bob and Barbara's marriage.
As a part of the 40th Infantry Division, Army Reserves, Bob was again called into active federal service for the Korean War. Bob served as a commissioned Officer and as the Personal Staff Officer of the Commanding General of the 40th Infantry Division during the war.
He remained in military service after the Korean War teaching tactics, strategy, and National Security Management. He often took a few children with him to Fort McArthur during his Saturday stints while in the reserves.
I know this to be true… because my wife and her sisters could MARCH through a Mall and cover every Clothes, Shoe and Purse store like an obstacle course while carrying bundles of store bags… in record time!
Bob retired as a Full Bird Colonel in 1974, although he was occasionally recalled for Military consultations and briefings well into his 80's.
He worked for Lockheed from 1958 until 1988. As computers were introduced into Lockheed, Bob became involved in computer programming and taught computer classes to the staff. He has always enjoyed learning about any new technology and was able to learn and understand them quickly.
In 1961, the Meyler family home was burned to the ground in the great Hollywood Hills fire. Distraught over losing their home, Bob the gentle but solid Cornerstone, reminded Barbara that they only lost a house, but not a home.
He was always a very involved family man and always supported his children's growth and dreams, no matter how crazy those dreams seemed to others. With every spare moment in his busy life, he would spend individual time with his children equally.
Bob was also active in Boy Scouts, encouraging youngest son Patrick to earn his Eagle Scout rank… as Bob did in his youth.
In the 70's and early 80's, Bob and Patrick, built a family cabin from the ground up in Pine Mountain. As a Scout Leader myself, Patrick, I didn't know that Building an entire house… Was a Merit Badge requirement for Eagle Scout.
The family used the cabin for many years, as did Bob and Barbara, going up nearly every weekend after his retirement from Lockheed.
Before retiring from Lockheed, Bob continued his studies and became a business consultant. He enjoyed helping entrepreneurs get their Dreams off the ground by turning them into million dollar, thriving businesses. His Company, General Business Services, allowed Bob to use his well rounded interests to benefit others.
Bob was not only an engineer and a businessman, but a lifelong student. His passion for learning…at any stage in his life, was a powerful drive which earned him only self accolades. You see, unbeknownst to most people, even his own children, this HUMBLE man studied Law and earned a Doctorate in Philosophy from a well known University, while in his mid-60's.
But he also loved the adverse…teaching. At age 82, Bob was recruited by the LAUSD to teach a 12th grade Economics class at Canoga Park High School. This pilot program was to entice community business members to become involved in education programs.
Bob wrote numerous educational, political and business articles for newspapers and periodicals and received many awards for his published works.
While in his retirement years, Bob was an active member of the Military Order of the World Wars, the LAPD West Valley PALS program, the Wine & Food Society, the Chamber of Commerce, and many other organizations.
As a politically active figure, Bob was elected to the Republican Central Committee, the Assembly District and he was the Congressional District Precinct Chairman. He had gone to Sacramento on numerous occasions to lobby for small business.
Bob was the President of the Board of Enrolled Agents from 2002-2006, and President of the San Fernando Valley United Chambers of Commerce (a coalition of some 23 Chambers).
Because of Bob's clear and sophisticated understanding of politics… business… the military… and education… he was solicited by City Controller Laura Chick to see if he was interested in additional public service which she felt was ideally suited to him. Bob's reply was swift but cordial, announcing that the position of the Post 9-11 Los Angeles AirPort Commissioner was not what he had in mind for a quiet retirement. Bob knew that this new job would screw up his weekly 5 mile hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains that he enjoyed and shared with his group of retired professional buddies, calling themselves the Gentlemen Hikers.
For those who know him as a friend and colleague, Bob was a man with A moral compass of impeccable integrity and compassion toward his fellow man… a man with remarkable intelligence and the ability to recall conversations, jokes, poems, places, and events instantly and just at the right moment. But more importantly, he was such a pleasant and kind man who was so well balanced between intellect… the arts… a great sense of humor… generosity…
philanthropics… friendships… and most of all FAMILY.
As quoted by a highly respected General in the Armed Forces,
General George S. Patton, Jr.
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”
All of Bob's children feel so blessed and fortunate to have had him as their father, their friend, their advisor and their role model.
God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle's flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And He called him … “DAD!”
Bob is survived by his brother, Jim (& Dorothy) Meyler, 4 of his 5 children, Gay (deceased,) (& Bob) Dawson, Robert III (& Kathie) Nikki (& Jim) Miller, Helen (& Michael) Ramos, and Patrick.
Along with 17 grandchildren, Christy Fuquay, Kimberly (Corey) Lee, & Heather (Marc) Salazar, Matthew Dawson, Rick (Claire) Meyler, Andrew & Heather Lynn, Bob, Jaimie, Garrett, Dakota & Hailey Miller, Patrick & Christopher Dettmar & Stephanie (Randy) Welton, Adrien & Nikolas Ramos,
and 5 great-grandchildren: Magonda Meyler, Addison & Jordan Lee, Clayton Salazar & Landon Miller.
”What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” – Helen Keller
Hello, I am David Honda, one of Bob's many friends from his United Chambers of Commerce and The Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley days.
The work of his hands, mind and heart will endure in ways beyond our knowing. We affirm that his love endures in the lives and organizations he touched. Bob was an astute business person as I found out while serving on the board of Valley Economic Development Corporation. He was focused, determined and had a strong conviction to his path of travel. He had dreams; all with his lovely wife Barbara his children, Gay, Robert, Nikki, Helen and Patrick One quality that most people will recognize of Bob, he was full of life, courteous, gracious and a true “gentleman” always with “that special smile”.
Special friends give us roots and give us wings. They open our eyes and hearts into the world, provide a foundation and then give us the tools to find our own way. Bob was always a mentor to many friends here today. Though we may have grown up and grown away, there is still something special about sharing our victories and commiserating our defeats with that special friend in our lives. Even if the relationship might have been challenging at different moments, we never stray far from the promise that true friendship is where the heart is and will never be forgotten. Losing a friend, even after a long and full life, leaves an empty place in our hearts. In spite of the darkness cast by this loss, we reaffirm our belief in the light of life.
My friend Colonel Robert G. Meyler, may you rest in peace. It is time to rest. You have travelled the world many times over and now you can leave this world knowing you have touched many hearts, minds and souls here, your job is done. We will always know and remember you.
You could always count on my Dad to do the right thing. He was a loving man, of strong principle and commitment. He had the nicest disposition of anyone I ever met. I always felt loved and supported by him. I still do.
The idea of trying to sum up the life of the incredible man I called my father in just a few minutes is more than daunting. This man ….who was a son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, colonel, leader, engineer, CPA, poet, pianist, civic leader, (to name only some of his roles,) and yet the most unassuming and humble man I have ever known-
My father was not a big talker. I don't remember him initiating any conversations. I know this seemed intimidating to boyfriends of his daughters, who would show up to pick us up for dates and my dad would answer the door, tell them to sit ( staring at a portrait of him in full military uniform) to wait for us without speaking a word until we came down to meet them.
But dad was FAR from intimidating. When he did speak, he delivered little gems! I remember at dinner one night when I was in 6th grade, I told my parents that I had an assignment to write a limerick for school. About 10 minutes later when the rest of us were on a completely different topic, dad spoke up and said, “I have a limerick for you” He then looked at each of my siblings at the table and spouted off the following :
I have a big sister named Nikki
Who in eating her dinner was picky
The peas were nice
So was the rice
But the rest of the dinner was icky
I have a young brother named Pat
Who used all his mealtimes to chat
You'd say he was thin
(That's under the chin)
But above it he's really quite fat
I have a big sister named Gay
Whose school books were taken away
The result was quite sad
For she never could add
And she always spelled Can't with a K
My sister Nikki had a similar experience in high school when she had an assignment to write a poem about death- For most, this would have been a dark and heavy assignment, but dad had a way of coming up with a twist and made the whole assignment hilarious. By the time the family was done helping Nikki with her poem, she had seven verses about a boy who was continually trying to kill his sister unsuccessfully using various methods- I don't remember it completely, but the gist was this:
Jimmy hung his sister dead and then he pulled her by the head
Whereupon she gave a shout
“You thought you killed me you big clout”
He tried again to kill her dead and laid her neatly on the bed
Whereupon she sat up straight and said “this just is not my fate”
Then he was a greater fool and tried to drown her in the pool
But he forgot he couldn't swim and the only one who died was him!
Dad loved poetry, and words, and plays on words! He could quote most of the English and American poets from memory, but he had a special affinity for humor. If you ever had a conversation for longer than 5 minutes with dad, there was probably a joke involved. There was not a topic of conversation that he couldn't interject an appropriate joke. I think my all time favorite is the one about a string who went into a bar for a drink. But the bartender told him that “they do not serve strings in this bar” so the string went back outside, unraveled his bottom half and tied up his top half and went back into the bar asking for a drink- The bartender said “Aren't you a string?” He answered “ No, I'm a frayed knot”-
Nikki, in mentioning another school assignment told our dad that she was learning about homonyms at school- He immediately told her this story- There were 3 brothers that decided to go into the cattle business together- After weeks of looking for and then finding the perfect locations with lots of sun for their ranch, they were having trouble coming up with a name for the Ranch- They asked their father who asked “Is the ranch Hot”?- They answered “Yes, why?” Because you should call it……..
Where the Sons Raise Meat (Where the Suns Rays Meet)- **(I'll pause here to let you think about both of those meanings……) That has to be the only triple homonym in our language and dad could pull these little treasures out of him memory bank and did ALL THE TIME!
Ask most people what they remember most about dad, they will probably tell you that he always had a smile. He never complained and if he did, it would be in the form of a joke. Dad did not like to be in the hospital. We only knew this, because if we asked what he needed while there, his standard answer was that he just wanted to go home. Nikki relayed a story during one of these recent stays just after coming out of surgery and being unconscious for hours he was wheeled into his room when the phone rang- The nurse picked up the phone and handed it to him- All that Nikki heard was dad saying…”Nope”….pause “She must have escaped” (Obviously the caller was looking for the previous room occupant)- Even half conscious, he was funny!- My mother- In –Law always told me that is was too bad dad couldn't be cloned!
Dad was also a very patriotic man with a strong sense of civic duty- He served as a member and often times as leader of many, many, organizations, including as a colonel for the US Army, president of the united Valley Chamber of Commerce, consultant to the LAUSD board, Military Order of the World Wars, ROTC commander, Boy Scout Pack leader and so many more. He was full of stories about his parents, , grandparents and great-grandparents who all participated in the early development of California Cities, including building of the first toll roads and water works, designing the Los Angeles Harbor, starting the first libraries in Los Angeles and founding the first school for teachers. He was a 6th generation Californian and very proud of his heritage.
And yet, with all of this involvement and a full time job as engineer at Lockheed, every night he made sure to be home with his family in time for dinner. We knew we were loved and his top priority. I know that it is obvious to say that if it weren't for my dad, I wouldn't be alive. But it really goes further than that. My mother always told us that coming from a family of 10 children, she would have been content to have NO children. Dad wanted a big family, and clearly he won this dispute. My mother never failed to tell us that in the end, that he was right. Thank you dad for my siblings, for choosing a great mother for us and for wanting that big family- For the jokes you told, the stories you shared and the unconditional love you gave to us all. Although losing you is heartbreaking, the fact that I had you for my father has been the greatest gift I could have ever have asked for- I love you.
Oh, Nikki! I didn't know Uncle Bob passed away! I'm so sorry. I loved Uncle Bob. He was one of the kindest uncles I had. I'll let the others in my family know. You'll be in my prayers. Lots of love to you. Janis
I will always remember Uncle Bob and Aunt Barbara being so kind to me when I was living in L.A.: you all took such good care of me it didn't even feel like being away from home. We were all blessed to have him in the family for so long. Love to you all, Cousins Meyler.
I will continue to tell all of your "grandbob" jokes and try to emulate the great attitude you always had
So sorry to hear bout your dad. Wishing you peace and comfort at this time. You are in our prayers.
Toni and family
And such a great grandfather to add to it! Always willing to help others and always had a smile on his face!
I was lucky enough to have the best Dad anyone could ever ask for, for so many years.