William Henry Meyer, hardware store owner, dies

Retired accountant had a long-standing love for Baltimore's sports traditions and sailed the bay

  • William Meyer
William Meyer
December 02, 2010|By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun

William Henry Meyer, a retired hardware store owner whose recollections of 1930s Baltimore baseball are part of downtown's Sports Legends Museum, died of pneumonia Nov. 23 at Gilchrist Hospice Care. He was 97 and lived in the Glen Meadows Retirement Community in Glen Arm.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Bonaparte Avenue, he was the son of a beverage distributor and saloon owner. A 1931 City College graduate, he attended the University of Alabama and earned a degree in business from the University of Baltimore.

Family members said that Mr. Meyer had been an Orioles fan since the 1920s. He accompanied his father to games at the old Oriole Park on East 29th Street near Greenmount Avenue, when the team was in the minor leagues.

"He was a great fan of the International League players. He had some favorites who played a number of years in Baltimore," said his nephew, Jay Anderson of Crownsville. "On Sundays, when there were no Oriole games, he went to the Negro Leagues games."

Curators at the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards interviewed Mr. Meyer and recorded his voice for use on an audio tour.

He later embraced the Baltimore Colts and became a season-ticket holder. He was among those who attended the 1958 "sudden death" playoff game against the New York Giants. He was also present at the 1959 National Football League championship game in Baltimore.

He traveled to Miami's Orange Bowl twice. His first visit was for Super Bowl III in 1969, when the Colts were upset by the New York Jets, and Super Bowl V in 1971, when the Colts beat the Dallas Cowboys, 16-13, in the first Super Bowl played on artificial turf.

"I don't think he ever flew in his life. He drove to Miami," said his nephew.

Mr. Meyer was an accountant for the old Gunther's Brewery, Haskins & Sells Accounting and the Steel Fabricating Co. in Westport.

In the 1950s, Mr. Meyer purchased his own business, the Kitchen paint and hardware store at Edmondson Avenue and Denison Street. In 1961, he moved the operation to Eldersburg and ran it until the early 1970s. He then became the accountant for the Kidney Foundation of Maryland.

Mr. Meyer raced Comet and Penguin class sailboats. He competed in races in Annapolis and along the Atlantic coast. He also operated classic wooden powerboats, including a vintage 38-foot Richardson.

Family members said he spent his summers at Round Bay on the Severn River. He was a past commodore of the Indian Landing Yacht Club.

"He would boat all around Chesapeake tributaries and had a great knowledge of the land, of who owned what and the history of that area," said his nephew. "After owning boats, he became a skilled boat-builder and restorer of canoes, skiffs and sailboats. He thought nothing of driving from his home in Cockeysville to Crownsville, where he had a workshop. There he would build boats from scratch, then advertise them for sale in boating magazines."

About 30 years ago, Mr. Meyer became a lacrosse fan. He was a volunteer at US Lacrosse on West University Parkway and a Johns Hopkins University season-ticket holder. He also attended local high school games.

"He was sharp as a tack and passionate about politics," said Steve Stenersen, president of US Lacrosse. "Although he never played lacrosse, he loved to watch his beloved Johns Hopkins University play. He came in every week with doughnuts and held court with a number of our staff."

Mr. Meyer rose at 5 a.m. and read four daily newspapers. He taught himself how to use the computer and would e-mail family members. He also kept a large personal library. He followed the stock market closely and bought and sold real estate.

"He was fiercely independent and was driving until he was 95," his nephew said. "He loved to travel the United States and took his nieces and nephews on extended sightseeing trips. He would avoid the major highways. He used the term 'shun piking' and stopped at roadside restaurants and chatted with locals."

A memorial service was held Saturday at Glen Meadows.

In addition to his nephew, survivors include his sister, Marie Anderson of Towson; three nieces; and four other nephews.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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