Pioneering Rolling Meadows resident Joel Meyer turning 100

  • This is pioneering Rolling Meadows resident and former Palatine Township Elementary District 15 board member Joel D. Meyer at age 99. He turns 100 on Saturday, May 9.

    This is pioneering Rolling Meadows resident and former Palatine Township Elementary District 15 board member Joel D. Meyer at age 99. He turns 100 on Saturday, May 9. Courtesy of Scott Meyer

 
 
Updated 5/7/2020 11:14 AM

Pioneering Rolling Meadows resident and former Palatine Township Elementary District 15 board member Joel D. Meyer will celebrate his 100th birthday Saturday, May 9.

Meyer served on the District 15 board from 1957 to 1978, an era in which 16 schools were built, including Carl Sandburg Junior High School in his hometown. His name is on cornerstone plaques for many District 15 schools.

 
This is pioneering Rolling Meadows resident and former Palatine Township Elementary District 15 board member Joel D. Meyer in 1933.
This is pioneering Rolling Meadows resident and former Palatine Township Elementary District 15 board member Joel D. Meyer in 1933. - Courtesy of Scott Meyer

He's been asked about the secret to turning 100 as the big day approaches and has a ready, lighthearted response.

"Stay alive," is the response from Meyer, who still lives in Rolling Meadows.

Joel D. Meyer cut the ribbon for a celebration at Carl Sandburg Junior High School in Rolling Meadows for a media center that was named for him in 2011. Meyer served on the Palatine Township Elementary District 15 board from 1957 to 1978, an era in which 16 schools were built, including Sandburg Junior High.
Joel D. Meyer cut the ribbon for a celebration at Carl Sandburg Junior High School in Rolling Meadows for a media center that was named for him in 2011. Meyer served on the Palatine Township Elementary District 15 board from 1957 to 1978, an era in which 16 schools were built, including Sandburg Junior High. - Daily Herald File Photo, 2011

District 15 kicked off Sandburg's 50th anniversary celebration in 2011 by dedicating the learning resource center as the Meyer Media Center. He cut the ribbon for the festivities.

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Meyer worked for Northwestern University when he was approached the day before the April 1957 election to run for the board of education and give Rolling Meadows representation on the panel. He won election as a write-in candidate.

The length of his tenure on the District 15 school board is behind only Walter R. Sundling, whose name is on a Palatine junior high.

An Army veteran, Meyer helped oversee District 15's growth from about 1,700 students to more than 11,000 when he resigned. One of his first tasks as a board member was auctioning off the district's sole remaining rural schoolhouse.

Meyer also served as a volunteer transporter at Northwest Community Hospital until he was 91.

Scott Meyer said his father was one of the Rolling Meadows pioneers who lived there before it was incorporated as a city in 1955.

"I'm glad that my dad is around for his 100th birthday, but perhaps just as much, I'm proud of how he's spent his time here," he said. "Like everyone, what has happened to him over the years has been a complex mixture of choice and happenstance. Sometimes, the happenstance helped provide the choices, and at other times the choices provided the happenstance."

Joel Meyer retired as assistant dean for administration of Northwestern's engineering school in 2011, his son said.

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