Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Who We Are 2013

February 28, 2011

Who We Are: Rich Meyer

Generosity helps build our community

Rich Meyer, 53, lists his occupation as home repair/auto mechanics/peacemaking. “In my early 20s, two community businessmen taught me valuable skills that I still use today — Merle Bontrager (Merle’s Electric & Plumbing) and Phil Eiler (Eiler’s Garage),” he said.

Where did you grow up?

Emerson Street, Goshen

How long have you lived here?

Forty-five years, except for six years in southern Africa and one year in Indianapolis.

What schools did you attend?

Parkside Elementary, Whiteman Junior High, Goshen High School and Goshen College

What is your fondest memory of this community?

In the ’90s some members of the KKK announced a rally at the courthouse. In a previous event the KKK had been surrounded with a lot of police, but this time Police Chief Mike Kettlebar announced that the downtown sidewalks were open to everyone, no exceptions. The Klan members could be there, but there would be no cordon of police, and anyone else could also use the sidewalks. There would be a few police present, watching to see that everyone remained civil, but no barriers separating people. It was brilliant — only a few Klan members showed up, they were met by Goshen residents respectfully refusing their ideology, and that was the last time the Klan came to Goshen.

Describe the essence of this community

Generosity builds community. Not just donations to helping agencies, but town merchants supporting school plays, volunteers giving their time — Maple City Health Care Center letting patients work off bills by volunteering at OTHER community agencies. Like LaCasa’s Help-a-House, generous investment in community pays back richly.

What about this community would you like to improve?

Goshen would benefit economically and culturally by taking a stronger stand in welcoming immigrants. Previous generations of immigrants to this country and this city found a better welcome than we are extending today. The fact that our national immigration laws are messed up shouldn’t make us act mean and selfish — when hospitality is illegal, the law is wrong. The fault is not with the immigrants, the fault is with our laws that no longer permit reasonable, orderly immigration. A generous city can find ways to work around that until the laws are changed.

What is this community’s best kept secret?

Goshen Airport. Goshen Air Center service and New Horizons Aviation flight training make Goshen Airport a jewel, and (Airport manager) Randy Sharkey’s mom serves a great lunch every Friday.

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