Marcia: Mereth, were you really born in Switzerland?
Mereth: Yes. My parents were Swiss but they had immigrated to Oregon. My sister was born there but mother really wanted to be “home” for my birth, so they traveled back by ship. After three months in Switzerland she and my sister survived a stay on Ellis Island (some paper glitch) with a baby that had whooping cough. Dad was ashore, unable to expedite our release so we could return to what had become their new home in Norman, Oklahoma.
Marcia: Why Norman?
Mereth: Leaving his philosophy position in Eugene, Dad took a professorship at the University of Oklahoma. After he retired, they did manage to retire in Bern, Switzerland. They returned to the house that Dad had grown up in. It had been rented to the same person all those years!
Marcia: So you grew up in Norman?
Mereth: Actually, my sister and I were taken back to Switzerland for four years where I had to learn Swiss (forgetting English in the process). I also lived in Bern for a year and a half when I was in high school. That time the challenge was to follow lessons in German while speaking the dialect the rest of the time.
Marcia: What about college?
Mereth: I started out at the University of Oklahoma, but decided I needed to get away and out on my own. It was no fun being a professor’s daughter and in the footsteps of a bright and beautiful older sister, so I got a scholarship to Smith as a Junior. After that I went to Yale for a Master’s in Nursing.
Marcia: You wanted to teach like your Father?
Mereth: Oh, no. I really wanted to be a nurse. As it turned out, nursing is riddled with teaching opportunities. I particularly liked public health and home visits.
Marcia: So when did Bob Meade come into the picture?
Mereth: I met Bob in the hallway outside of my weekly, detested geology lab. We had been neighbors when his naval father moved the family into a house two doors down when he was sent to Norman to build a naval base. I played with his sister and was aware of his existence. He was in the Navy while I was at Smith. We reconvened in Norman for a wedding when it was 113 degrees outside.
Marcia: And where did married life take you?
Mereth: Married life started in the Four Corners area where Bob did field work for Chevron while I learned to cook on a wood stove in a cabin without heat or running water--in Disappointment Valley in the Paradox Basin. I kid you not. It takes a guy with a sense of humor to take a bride to such nomenclature! After the first month we got to live in a motel in Dolores. We moved to California in the truck we were able to buy from his summer’s earnings. It came from a dairy farmer and said “Thirsty? Drink Milk” on the side. We kept that old truck for years, always parked downhill on the road to our cabin in Portola Valley because the dairy farmer had warned us that the battery was about to go. My nursing salary helped him finish graduate school. Two children were born at Stanford and the third in Falmouth, MA. We were there for eleven years. Bob was away at sea a lot and I continued to work in nursing.
Marcia: How did you ever get to Colorado?
Mereth: Bob came to Colorado with the USGS in 1974 so as not repeat himself in work he was doing at Woods Hole on Cape Cod. I had various jobs along the way, including teaching LPNs at Emily Griffith Opportunity School and as registrar at Colorado Academy after I left nursing.
Marcia: What are your kids doing now?
Mereth: Our oldest son is an engineer, daughter has her own tutoring business that includes college counseling for parents and students looking for the right college fit, and the youngest son is an architect who just sold his climbing wall business. Oh, and we currently have two grandkids in Oregon.
Marcia: How would you describe yourself?
Mereth: Oh, I’d say that nurture and problem solving are threads that run through my life.
Marcia: How did you come to join Evergreen Rotary?
Mereth: I first came to Evergreen Rotary because of a very persistent friend. It took me a year and a half to find my niche. President Jim Davis spoke of the need for someone to work on literacy so I ended up as Literacy Chair for 4 years.
Marcia: How would you describe yourself, extrovert or introvert?
Mereth: I consider myself an introvert. I read and think a lot and love to garden. I miss tennis and ping pong from the past. Rotary gives the energy to embrace my passions as others join me in endeavors that they, too, seem to embrace. I have recently joined with other Evergreenites to form Evergreen’s Alliance for Substainability (EASY), whose mission is to foster sustainability in our mountain communities. Half of the Board consists of Rotarians.
Marcia: Any words of wisdom?
Mereth: If you enjoy doing something you probably do it well. So do it!