Coach Meyer was a living legend in Garnett
One of the most influential people I’ve ever known was born and raised at Hiawatha and was a teacher and coach at Horton before moving to Garnett in 1949.
Raymond E. “Coach’’ Meyer, Sr., died Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 at Garnett. Because coach Meyer was a long time teacher, coach, mentor and counselor at Garnett and continued to live in Garnett all these years, he influenced multi-generations of local families with his good example of healthy living.
Faith was very important to coach and his faithful church attendance, with the assistance of loyal church friends, continued to Jan. 29.
He was born May 21, 1920, at Hiawatha, the son of Louis W., Sr. and Bertha (Lange) Meyer. He graduated from Hiawatha High School, earned a bachelor degree at Kansas State Teachers College, Emporia, and a master’s degree at University of Illinois, Urbana.
He married Mabel D. Meyer on Jan. 11, 1941 in Hiawatha. This union was blessed with two sons, Ray Jr. and Duane. He was a 65-year member of Garnett Lions Club and a member of the American Legion. Coach lettered four years in basketball at KSTC. He coached football briefly at Westphalia before entering the Army Air Corps for two years. Coaching one semester of girls basketball in Morrill (near Hiawatha) was followed by three years of coaching at Horton. He led football, basketball and track teams, with the basketball team going to state in 1949.
Arriving in Garnett in 1949, when my mother was in high school, Ray went on to coach football until 1975, basketball and track until 1983, and several years of girls’ golf. His GHS basketball teams went to state in 1966 and 1968.
Ray coached by example, both athletically and with integrity. He could demonstrate almost every position in each sport. He demanded the sport’s rules be followed, and his abstinence from tobacco and alcohol allowed him to educate his teams about how their decisions affected their sports performance. Coarse language was not tolerated. Physical education classes allowed him to teach life sports - volleyball, bowling, tennis, archery, juggling, rope jumping, tumbling, baseball, horseshoes etc.
He initiated the Garnett biddy basketball recreation program. Ray was in the insurance and investment industry until 2000, helping people improve. His competitiveness persisted, evidenced by counting laps and striving for better times at the recreation center and care facility‚ regular walking, then with a cane, then with a walker. He complained with a grin that he was now only in the middle of the pack.
This information about coach Meyer is recounted here because he was perhaps the most influential man in Garnett – ever.
The coach ultimately outlived many of his students. It is interesting how some people like Coach enjoy a long, healthy life. Coach Meyer credited his healthy life style. Few can argue.