LEWIS M. MEEKS (JANUARY 1, 1985 – DECEMBER 31, 1988)
By Larry Walker
December 3, 2012
This is what two had to say about their good friend, Lewis Meeks. Billy Bledsoe: “Generous to a fault, sharp as a tack, very family oriented, and one of the finest people I have ever known.” Jeanne Bledsoe: “Thoughtful, trustworthy and also very modest.”
This is what I say: “If by meticulous you mean extremely careful and precise, and this is what I mean, Lewis Meekis is the most meticulous person with whom I have ever dealt. His being careful and precise, and very ordered, served the City of Perry very well during his time as Mayor.”
Lewis Meeks was born in Atlanta in 1933 and graduated from West Fulton High School in 1951. He attended Georgia Tech as a co-op student, after which he joined the U.S. Air Force, where he served from March, 1953 through December, 1956. Later, he attended Middle Tennessee State University, where he earned a B.S. degree in 1958. As a result of his military service, Meeks received G. I. benefits which enabled him to attend Georgia State University, where he earned a B.S. in Math and Economics and a Masters of Business Administration.
While in Tennessee, Meeks worked at a bank in Memphis, and after he received his undergraduate degree, he was employed at the The Citizens and Southern Bank in Greenville, South Carolina. After he received his Masters, he worked in the Trust Department at The National Bank of Georgia in Atlanta. Meeks left The National Bank of Georgia to work with The Tennessee Corporation (agriculture chemicals) in Atlanta. But, Meeks missed the “banking business”. So, when a friend of his who knew Ogden Persons told him about a job in Perry at Perry Loan and Savings Bank (now the Bank of Perry), Lewis and June made a trip to Perry, had lunch with Vernon and Mildred Tuggle at The New Perry Hotel, toured Perry with this fine Perry couple, and made the decision to relocate to Perry (despite, as Lewis says, “June’s crying all the way back to Atlanta” not wanting to move).
Thanks to Ogden Persons, Vernon and Mildred Tuggle and, I’m sure others, including one of the first people Lewis and June met, W. G. Mullins, Lewis and June became Perryans. Little did anyone know, at that time, the tremendous contributions both were to make to our community – but especially Lewis Meeks in his role as President and Chair of the Board at The Bank of Perry, his service as Mayor of Perry and many, many other civic involvements.
Much can be written about Meek’s vast community service through the Perry Area Chamber of Commerce, civic clubs, government authorities, councils and church involvement. But, this is about Meeks’ role as Perry’s Mayor. However, it should be noted that much of his involvement in these areas prepared him well to be the outstanding Mayor he was.
Here was a man with vast banking experience and almost unprecedented Perry and Houston County civic involvement. He was ready to be a Mayor, but still there had to be a reason that made him want to be Mayor. When asked, “why,” this was his answer: “Perry truly came to be my home. I fell in love with Perry. All of my civic involvement made me want to contribute even more. I was particularly interested in economic development.” Certainly, as you will see, Meeks had great success in this area, which made Perry very successful during his tenure.
Let me give it to you in his own words – my questions and Meek’s answers:
What is the most interesting thing(s) that happened during your terms as Mayor? The development of downtown Perry. Initially, I worked through my involvement with the Downtown Development Authority. We had people from other towns to find out what we were doing and what we had done. We had a ‘dog and pony show’ where Wendell Whipple, Don Parkinson, Billy Bledsoe and I went to other towns to tell our story – we even went to communities in Florida. Also, we got our first two African American council members, Hervia Ingram, first, and Bobby Glover, shortly thereafter, and all of this in our newly created council districts went very smoothly. I am proud of this.
What did you like least about being Mayor? Council meetings!
What did you like most about being Mayor? Planning.
What do you consider your most significant achievement during your tenure as Mayor? My role in helping to bring the leadership in our community together – both public and private. I think the secret to success in running a city is to work, daily, constantly, to bring all of the various interests in the community, together, to work in a united manner – if you do this with success, you can accomplish most anything.
Did Meeks have success? Let’s look at some of the things that happened during his two terms, four years, with his acknowledging that much of this started at earlier times, and that “we are always standing on someone else’s shoulders”: Frito-Lay, 1985, Ag-Center – Announced, 1985, Ag-Center – Groundbreaking, 1987, Northrop, 1987, and PPG – Announced, 1988.
Quite a record, I’d say, Mr. Meeks. Thanks for four years of good service to our community, which continues today with your work at Christ Sanctified Holiness Church.
I told you he was meticulous. Notice that when he was Mayor, he liked the ‘the council meetings’ the least and the ‘planning’ best. I’d say: spoken like a meticulous banker. And, I’d say this trait served the city very well and will continue to do so for years to come. Now, and in the future, Lewis, so many are standing and will stand on your shoulders.
No Mayor can accomplish much without a good council. Those who served with Mayor Meeks were: C. Ralph Gentry, Bobby E. Glover, James B. Hendrix, Hervia B. Ingram, Thomas R. Mayo, George F. Nunn, Jr., Frank H. Roper, H. E. Smith, and Edmond H. Wilson.
NEXT WEEK: JIMMY FAIRCLOTH CONTINUES AS EFFECTIVE MAYOR
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