Nov. 19, 1928 – May 8, 2017
After a long and brave battle with Alzheimer’s disease, Wes Meeker is taking a well-deserved rest. It should be noted that Wes wasn’t actually defeated in this battle. Even Alzheimer’s couldn’t take his sense of humor or the twinkle in his eye. He goes to join his wife Ivalee, who he has loved since he spotted her on the dance floor at age 16.
Wes was born in Lovell on Nov. 19, 1928, to Steve and Clorus Meeker, the third of six children.
Wes was a world changer from the start. Just out of high school, he joined the National Guard. He sold his friends on the idea of spending their weekends this way, as well. Guns, time with friends, the only thing missing was a herd of elk. What’s not to love?
Wes and his friends were shortly shipped off to the Korean War, however, where he spent some of the most memorable times of his life – as a sergeant with the 300th Armored Field Artillery Battalion. For the rest of his life his war experiences were important to him. He organized reunions, spoke to schoolchildren and participated in many events associated with veterans.
Wes was a huge booster of his hometown Lovell. He helped revive “Lovell Days,” which soon became Mustang Days. He served as city clerk and as a volunteer fireman. While with the fire department, he organized the first Mustang Days fireworks display. His love of clowning spilled over and soon the firemen were dressed as clowns during the Mustang Days parades, as well. Wes did many things “in the background” that people didn’t see. He made ice skating rinks for neighbor kids in the winter and was always there with a hand or a couple of bucks to help those in need.
Wes opened a real estate office, Meeker Agency, which kept him and Ivalee very busy for decades. What a lovely team to welcome new people to town. With his big heart, Wes would often accept an appliance instead of his commission. Ivalee would just smile, as she tucked the fourth or fifth refrigerator into the garage. There was always room at the Meeker table for a stranger. They’ve welcomed bikers, many lost souls and even a busload of teenagers from Louisiana.
His family tried to teach him the meaning of the word “retired” many times, but he didn’t listen. Even when he was in his 70s, he was working to make his town a better place. He helped create the Veterans Park on Main Street in Lovell, successfully raising tens of thousands of dollars. And for the speaker at the park’s dedication, he recruited no less than Apollo astronaut James Lovell, the man who said, “Houston, we have a problem.”
Being an eternal joker, he also passed himself off as astronaut Neil Armstrong, while with James Lovell at the Cody Museum. And though that story delighted Wes, we shouldn’t probably bring it up here. Sorry, Cody Museum.
Some of his loves included the Big Horn Mountains, his family and friends, his video camera and practical jokes, which are still legendary. He loved people. Wes carried little hand puppets with him and nothing gave him more delight than coaxing a smile from a stranger’s children.
Faith in Jesus Christ as his living Lord and rescuing Savior and in the reliability of the Bible were very important to Wes and his integrity was always rock solid.
He died May 8, 2017, and he was preceded in death by Ivalee, his wife of almost 60 years, by his son Mark, granddaughter Abby and by his brothers Steve, Larry and Bob.
He leaves behind five children, Randy (Tami) Meeker of Columbus, Mont., Nila (Tom) of Billings, Kelly (Ron) Massine of Lovell, Terri (Mike) Garrett of Anacortes, Wash., and Cole (Anastasia) Meeker of Sebastopol, Calif., 14 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and his beloved Big Horn Mountains. The world has lost a bright light. May his life inspire us all to shine brighter.
An extra special thanks on behalf of the family goes to caregiver Cristy Lopez, who made such a difference. And certainly a special thanks to caregivers at Highgate Memory Cottage in Billings – Virginia, Jessica, Kelley, Jen, Mikayla and others who went above and beyond the call of duty during the final months of his journey.
Memorial services for Wes will be at 11 a.m. June 3 at the Fire Hall in Lovell. Following a lunch reception, burial with military honors will be at the Lovell Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a local or national Alzheimer’s Association or Samaritan’s Purse International Relief.
To send one of our special floral arrangements, please call Valley Flowers & Gifts in Lovell, 307-548-7101