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Longtime South Routt superintendent remembered

Bill Meek led Soroco schools for nearly 30 years

Nicole Inglis
Bill Meek, pictured here with one of his prized Colorado trout, was superintendent of the South Routt School district for about 30 years before he retired in 1994. Meek died in March at age 77.
Courtesy Photo

Guest book

Bill Meek’s family has set up an online guestbook to share memories about the former South Routt resident. Visit http://www.affuneral.com/obits/obituaries.php/obitID/720361.

Guest book

Bill Meek’s family has set up an online guestbook to share memories about the former South Routt resident. Visit http://www.affuneral.com/obits/obituaries.php/obitID/720361.

— Today, the name William L. Meek can be read at the entrance to the South Routt School District’s athletic facility.

But after 30 years as the district’s superintendent, Meek’s legacy runs much deeper through the roots of the South Routt community than a simple sign could illustrate.

As a father, church deacon, volunteer emergency medical technician, coach and educational leader, Bill Meek’s impact on the South Routt community won’t soon be forgotten.

“He was a superintendent that was there,” said Carol Villa, who was his secretary for 25 years. “He didn’t take extra vacations or things like that. He was there.”

Bill Meek died in March in Florida, where he moved in 2002. He passed away less than a year after he and his wife, Sally, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

He was 77.

His son Brian Meek, who launched the Front Range Christian School in Littleton, said he always takes a seventh-grade class from his school on a field trip to Yampa to learn about what it takes for a community to thrive.

The tour ends every year with a trip to the William L. Meek athletic complex, where Meek said his father’s legacy embodies what it means to invest one’s life in a community of people.

“He was the same guy at home and at school, and I view that as integrity,” Brian Meek said. “He had high expectations, and he wouldn’t quit on those expectations. He was tough, he was challenging, but he was always for you. He was the best guy you could have in your corner.”

Hands-on leader

According to a biography written by Brian, Bill Meek was raised in Craig and graduated from Moffat County High School in 1951. He went on to play football at Adams State College in Alamosa on a scholarship, graduating four years later with a degree in science, industrial arts and physical education.

His first job was teaching in the San Luis Valley, where he remained for four years before returning to Adams State for his master’s degree.

In 1961, he was hired as the junior high and elementary school principal at the South Routt School district, and he was promoted to superintendent in 1965. He stayed until his retirement in 1994.

During that period, the small rural school district became his life and livelihood, and the community he settled in became the home where he and Sally raised their children — Brian, Kathy and Kent — with small-town values.

“That was his life,” said longtime agriculture and vocational teacher Byron Dean, who retired last year. “He was dedicated.”

More than a superintendent, Meek drove the school bus when needed and coached the wrestling team in his early years.

He was a hands-on leader, which Dean said was typical of the superintendent position during that time period.

“Old-school superintendents were the type that ran the district; they ran the schools,” Dean said. “There were few committees. He made the decisions.”

The school board always made the final call, but it was Meek’s actions that kept the district afloat during difficult financial times, Dean said.

“He was always able to keep the district running well and the kids able to do a lot of things,” Dean said. “Anything the kids needed to do — field trips or the FFA going to nationals — he always found the money for us to go.”

He said Meek was recognized around the district for his stern manner, but Dean and Villa recognized that Meek’s serious manner derived from an overwhelming passion for providing the best education possible for his students.

“He was strict, but he always put the needs of the students first. He always wanted to do the best for them,” Villa said.

‘He always kept fighting’

Meek was heavily involved with the civic happenings in town, appearing at many meetings and serving on the Emergency Services Board. He worked as a volunteer EMT and still found time to attend all the sports games he could.

He also was a deacon at Yampa Bible Church.

“I don’t think he ever missed a Sunday,” Dean said.

Off the job, Dean learned through many after-school fishing trips on horseback that Meek was a mild-mannered and personable family man.

Even after a move to Melbourne, Fla., because of health issues, Meek stocked a nearby lake with fish and went out on the water whenever he could.

Whether it was finding time to attend every one of Bill Meek’s children’s events or finding the funds to give teachers raises, Brian Meek said his father approached every hurdle armed with strong will.

“If he saw an obstacle, he saw a way to make an opportunity out of it,” Brian said. “He was relentless. He always felt there would be a solution. He always kept fighting.”

And though his name was emblazoned on the district’s new athletic facility in 2002, his legacy stretches further than a football field ever could.

— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com


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